Monday, November 30, 2009

Under 250: Humpday

Lynn Shelton's super lo-fi bromantic indie chronicles, respectfully and simplistically, the escalating of a challenge between two long time best friends. Ben (Mark Duplass) is happily married to Anna (Alycia Delmore). They've settled down and are living a sweet little life when Ben's old friend Andrew (Joshua Leonard) appears at their doorstep late one night with a wooden duck and a backpack. Ben, in an attempt to prove he hasn't gone all white picket fence, follows Andrew to a party filled with artsy bohemian types, who tell them about the amateur pornography film festival put on by an underground paper. Andrew and Ben, drunk and half joking, set a date to break boundaries in porn by having sex with each other. Two straight dudes boning. The concept alone is enough fodder for a hilarious comedy, but Shelton's sideways approach is both surprising and a bit bland. The film opens up questions about the nature of sexuality, particularly male sexuality, alongside cans full of awkward situations and opportunity. The humor is gentle and the relationships are defined artfully and with a healthy dose of respect and reverence you wouldn't see if the film had come straight out of Hollywood. Yet, the movie never quite seems to come into its own, it rides along on one joke (that turns out to be not so much a joke as a posited question or social commentary) and shows us slices of life that are both absurd and incredibly mundane. Opportunities are opened, but not taken, and in the end, while the result feels real you just can't shake the feeling that the movie, while cute, just didn't take the risks it should have.

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