February 18, 2014

Drinking Buddies: (and five of the best films about getting drunk)
by James
James

by James Forryan

hmv London; 18/02/2014

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"Like the legend of the Phoenix, I've just eaten a whole packet of chocolate HobNobs..." Editor, hmv.com

Drinking Buddies: (and five of the best films about getting drunk)

Coming soon on DVD & Blu-Ray in the UK, Drinking Buddies is an off-kilter romantic comedy starring Jake Johnson and Olivia Wilde as Luke and Kate, a pair of employees at a Chicago craft brewery who spend their days drinking, chatting and flirting with each other. Trouble is, they both have partners. Jake is already in wedding discussions with Jill (Anna Kendrick), his girlfriend of six years, while Kate is involved with a music producer named Chris (Ron Livingston).

Directed by Joe Swanberg, an actor/director whose acting credits include Adam Wingard’s  slasher-movie-with-a-twist You’re Next, the film is a natural, true-to-life account of the complexity of modern relationships and the blurry boundaries between platonic and romantic involvement, in this case blurred further by the consumption of lots and lots of beer.

Even though the film is essentially a rom-com, it’s unusual in that it’s light on both romance and comedy. That’s not a criticism, it’s just that along with the palpable sense of sexual tension that drives the film, there’s also a sense of detachment between the main characters: there’s of a huge amount of depth on offer with Luke and Kate, but then the characters don’t give much away about themselves and where the film really comes into its own is in the dialogue, which begins as day-to-day small talk and progress to the kind of 4am-around-the-bonfire deep and meaningful rants that we’ve all exchanged when completely plastered. It’s through this that the characters find out enough about each other to realise how superficial their attraction to each other really is.

You’d expect more laughs from a film about getting plastered, though that’s not really the point here, but if you’re looking for movies about getting drunk, here’s five more we recommend:

The Hangover

The Hangover

(2009)

The Hangover was kind of a surprise hit when it was released in cinemas and is largely responsible for launching the film career of Zach Galifianakis, but if you’re looking for a flick about getting drunk that will make you laugh, this is one of the best.
Doug (Justin Bartha) is about to get married to Tracy (Sacha Barrese) and along with his two friends Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) embarks on a stag trip to Las Vegas. Things go badly wrong when they take Tracy’s brother Alan (Galifianakis), who drugs everyone, including himself, with Rohypnol. When they awake, they have lost the groom, but gained a tiger, which they discover belongs to Mike Tyson. They must then retrace their steps to try and piece together the previous night in order to find Doug before he misses his wedding. It's every groom's worst nightmare, but it's very, very funny.

The World's End

The World's End

2013

The third and final movie in Edgar Wright’s ‘Cornetto Trilogy’, this time around it’s Nick Frost’s turn to play the straight man, while Simon Pegg stars as recovering drug addict and perpetual man-child Gary King. Gary is struggling to let go of his past and move on into the world of adulthood, and decides to try and find closure by persuading his friends to re-attempt a legendary pub-crawl around their hometown. When they arrive they find that the town has changed more than they realise, and soon their drinking quest becomes a mission of an entirely different kind: nothing less than saving the world. Frenetic, puerile and utterly brilliant, this film is a lot of fun.

Old School

Old School

(2003)

Director Todd Phillips seems to have made films about getting wasted a bit of a speciality and before The Hangover came this film in 2003. Luke Wilson stars as Mitch, who after finding out his wife is cheating on him moves into a new house next to a college campus. When he is informed by the Dean that the house is specifically designated for social services and community housing, he is persuaded by his friends Beanie (Vince Vaughn) and Frank (Will Ferrell) to start a fraternity to save Mitch’s house, but really Beanie and Frank are more interested in re-living their college days all over again. Frank, a married man, soon relapses into his old drinking habits and before long he is spotted by his wife and her friends streaking naked along a highway. If you’re looking for beer-fuelled belly laughs, this is not to be missed.

Withnail & I

Withnail & I

(1987)

By now a well-loved classic, Bruce Robinson’s 1987 film stars Richard E. Grant and Paul McGann as Withnail and Marwood, two unemployed actors who, after becoming sick of London life in their cramped Camden flat, take a holiday in the countryside at a Lake District cottage retreat owned by Withnail’s uncle Monty (Richard Grffifths). The holiday turns out to be less fun than expected: it rains constantly and thanks to mixture of drunkenness and paranoia Wiithnail becomes convinced that a nearby farmer is trying to kill him. Matters only get worse when Uncle Monty arrives and begins to take a sexual interest in Marwood. The film is packed with hilarious dialogue and has become one of the most quoted British films ever (“Monty, you terrible c**t”). If you haven’t already seen it, you’re missing out.

Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

(1995)

This doesn’t exactly fit into the ‘belly laughs’ criteria, but it does involve a lot of drinking and an excellent performance from Nicholas Cage as Ben Sanderson. A failed Hollywood screenwriter, Ben’s life is falling apart as a result of his heavy drinking. His wife leaves him, taking their child with her, and when he finally gets fired from his job, Ben decides to end it all in a blaze of drunken glory and heads to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. He befriends a prostitute named Sera (Elizabeth Shue) and moves in to The Whole Year Inn with her, on the proviso that she promises never to ask him to stop drinking. Poignant, sad and at times incredibly moving, Mike Figgis‘ film is very different to the other films on our list, but if you really want a film that shows the true consequences of alcoholism, this gritty and realistic tale is well worth a look.

 

Drinking Buddies will be in stores from Monday 10th March.