You’re not likely to see many movie reviews here at Brew / Drink / Run; but we were invited to an advance screening of Drinking Buddies, an indie film featuring Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston and an uncredited Jason Sudeikis.
Directed by Joe Swanberg, Drinking Buddies is the story of two couples in their 30s that are seemingly with the wrong partners. Wilde, as Kate, is a perfect manic pixie dream girl, floating through the imaginations of her co-workers at Revolution Brewing. In case you’re wondering, YES Revolution is a real brewery with a solid saison. Kate is flirtatious and free, intimidatingly beautiful but with a relaxed attitude that makes her all the more endearing to the boys at work. One of those brewers is Luke (played by New Girl actor Jake Johnson) who seems to be her perfect match. They have great chemistry, sharing intimate, private moments as well as big laughs and public displays of affection that add to their romantic tension. However, Luke and Kate are in relationships with other people. As their attraction intensifies, one of those relationships falls apart and a dark twist to the fantasy girlfriend archetype plays out in the third act, leaving the other relationship more solid than before.
Craft beer fans can get extra enjoyment from the beauty shots of the brewery’s production areas and tap room, which are gorgeous. There are also subtle shout outs to Three Floyds, Abita and even Chicago stalwart Old Style. However, the most nerdy beer joke may be Livingston’s mock tasting notes, where he finds some interesting flavors in his pour – a subtle stab at those of us who take our beer a little too seriously. All in all, I think Kate Thomas, the film’s beer consultant, did a fine job. I just want to know how I can become a beer consultant for movies. It seems like pretty sweet work.
My only complaint is that we didn’t see more of Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis (Wilde’s real-life fiancée) in the film. He’s uncredited but gives a great performance as one of the brewery’s executives.
Drinking Buddies is not a mainstream movie. There are long quiet moments, masked dialogue and natural behaviors that give the film more of a Cinéma Vérité feel. The happy ending isn’t cut and dry. It’s more about seeing a slice of four people’s lives over the course of a few weeks than going on a typical exploration of character arcs. It’s funny and sad and all told, a very authentic movie watching experience, set in the context of craft beer. Not a bad combination.