Drinking Buddies, written and directed by Joe Swanberg, is a romantic comedy starring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Ron Livingston. The film examines the romantic lives of Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson), best friends and co-workers who seem to have more chemistry than a ‘Breaking Bad’ episode. The catch? They’re both in serious relationships with other people. And after a double-date weekend trip, things become even more complex when their significant others seem to have a little chemistry of their own. Laughter, tears, and complication ensue.
Cleverness aside, I absolutely loved Drinking Buddies. I’ll admit that as a ‘New Girl’/Jake Johnson fan, I may be biased. He’s just too good at being the goofy guy who’s totally cute and secretly in love with a cool girl (that you mentally replace with yourself). But at its core, Drinking Buddies is a spectacularly simple movie about a not-so-simple topic: Love, lust, romance, and relationships. And what’s wonderful about Swanberg’s film is that it doesn’t fall victim to cliches or evolve as a stereo-typical rom-com. The viewer is left dangling, as unsure where the next moment will go as the characters themselves are.
And there’s a reason for that. Thanks to Swanberg’s inventive directing style, the film feels so real partly because it is. There was no script for Drinking Buddies, and the actors oftentimes drank real beer on set. Instead of providing his cast with a script to study and lines to memorize, Swanberg gave them an overview, highlighting specific plot points and letting them decide the rest. With such a spectacular ensemble, it’s no surprise that each and every performance hits the mark.
It may be a rom-com, but there’s nothing cheesy about Drinking Buddies.