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September 30, 2016

Buddymoon

by Franz Patrick


Buddymoon (2016)
★ / ★★★★

Not all that dissimilar to horror films where characters venture into the woods but nothing thrilling nor interesting ever happens, “Buddymoon,” directed by Alex Simmons, is a limp comedy, one that lacks ambition, as well as a thorough or thoughtful understanding of human psychology, male friendships, and broken romantic relationships. It were as if the filmmakers decided to make a movie on a Sunday, wrote the script on a Monday, and started shooting Tuesday. The result is an underwritten affront to the independent buddy comedy sub-genre.

The plot involves an actor named David (David Giuntoli) whose fiancée has decided to break up with him before their wedding. Hoping to help his best friend to get out of his depression, Flula (Flula Borg) suggests that the two of them go on the already booked seven-day/seven-nights honeymoon hiking trip. Perhaps walking away from civilization for a while would put the important things into perspective and David would stop mourning in his apartment.

It fails to get even the most basic elements right. Of particular importance is the relationship between David and Frankie (Jeanne Syquia) because their separation triggered the extended hiking trip. For a while, we are given a handful of mini-flashbacks of Frankie’s face looking soft and inviting in front of the camera, often using extreme close-ups, but these images say very little, if anything at all, about her. I suppose the idea is that David is thinking of her during the trip, but these lamentations serve no impact because we have no understanding when it comes to the dynamics of their relationship. How is the audience supposed to care when there is no context?

Flula and David’s friendship is a mixed bag. It is awkward because the former is portrayed as a clown and the other as a straight man, but it is also sweet at times in the way they find ways to tolerate each other. I enjoyed that their friendship is not rooted on constant put-downs, salacious jokes, or sexism—elements to be expected from more mainstream comedies. Here, there are moments where we wonder how far is too far, especially when one leg of the unit is highly emotionally vulnerable.

Supporting characters that come in the form of hikers that the central characters meet along the way are not given anything interesting to say or do. In fact, they are so ineffectual as sounding boards, one would not be blamed for thinking that perhaps such encounters are simply there to fill up the minutes so that the work would officially pass as a feature movie rather than a short film. The story would have made more sense thematically if the best buds were kept in isolation and were forced to confront themselves and each other. Perhaps through Flula or how David treated Flula when the latter became unbearable, the viewers would learn the reason, or reasons, why Frankie decided not to marry David.

Sure, there are beautiful shots of nature, especially around fifteen minutes in where Flula and David walk alongside a mountain and we could see scenery below. But the best buddy comedies, “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” and “The Blues Brothers” quickly come to mind, are not just about gorgeous images. Not only are they funny on multiple levels but they are also sharp, intelligent, and thoughtful when you least expect it. The emotions ring true and the motivations are crystal clear. There is more fun to be had in actually hiking with friends than to have to sit through this dull material.

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