Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard Star in Humpday
In Kevin Smith’s 2008 comedy, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Smith explored the consequences that threaten two best friends’ platonic relationship once that couple has sex with each other. I saw Zack and Miri on DVD a few weeks ago and – though it does not quite match the gut-busting hilarity of Clerks – I thought it was really quite funny, just edgy enough and ultimately a very sweet film. So, coming fresh off the positive experience of a watching an above-average comedy about two good friends making a porno film together, I had high hopes for the new Lynn Shelton-directed comedy, Humpday, which I saw at a reviewer’s screening last night. On paper, Humpday’s plot is golden: what happens when two straight friends agree – on somewhat of a drunken dare – to make a guy-on-guy film, starring themselves, as their submission to a local, amateur-porn film festival? “It’s not gay,” they tell themselves, “it’s beyond gay! It’s not porn; it’s an art project!” That’s the kind of sharp writing that makes you think, “Oh man, this is going to be good.” Sadly, no.
Mark Duplass (The Puffy Chair, Bag Head) and Joshua Leonard (Blair Witch Project) star as Ben and Andrew, college best friends whose lives have taken different paths in the ten years since graduation. Ben has settled down as the married-employed-home-owning friend while Andrew has chosen to live as a rootless, world-traveling adventurer. Alycia Delmore gives the film’s best performance as Ben’s sensible wife, Anna. Let me tell you that I really wanted to like this film; it had a hilarious premise, talented actors, sympathetic characters, and a very well-written script peppered with realistic dialogue; yet Humpday is an oddly directionless film. It’s inability to really come together cohesively makes the viewer think that the script writer must have just decided, “Hey, this script has enough pages” and that audiences wouldn’t care that the film lacks dynamics, consistent laughs or any kind of satisfying payoff. Everybody’s actions are rather half-assed and there are way too many loose ends left dangling. I’m not kidding when I tell you that ninety percent of the scenes in Humpday involve a ten to fifteen minute conversation (one camera shoot) between two characters. Zzzzzz. Boring! Despite the fact that I did laugh out loud perhaps four or five times in 90 minutes, that doesn’t add up to a funny film. There was so much wasted potential in failing to explore the insane physical comedy you could have gotten from two unfailingly straight guys trying to work up the enthusiasm and commitment to their “project” to bone each other for the sake of making Art. Humpday doesn’t completely suck, and it’s even gotten some (mystifying) great reviews praising it as “hilarious.” But I’m glad I didn’t pay to see it.
Humpday opens July 10th.