CineVegas Review: HUMPDAY
"It’s been a decade since Ben and Andrew were the bad boys of their college campus. Ben has settled down and found a job, wife, and home. Andrew took the alternate route as a vagabond artist. When Andrew shows up, unannounced, on Ben’s doorstep, they easily fall back into their old dynamic of heterosexual one-upmanship. After a night of perfunctory carousing, the two find themselves locked in a mutual dare: to enter an amateur porn contest. But what kind of boundary-breaking porn can two dudes make? After the booze and “big talk” run out, only one idea remains—they will have sex together on camera." (official festival synopsis)
The synopsis above makes HUMPDAY out to sound simply like a hilarious portrayal of two straight best friends that decide to have sex, which it is, but there within lies something deeper in its tone and message. It poses the infamous quarter life crisis...when the American dream is finally achieved, but it plays out more like a nightmare. Everyone has had those times in their lives when they stop and ask themselves, "how did I get here and how did I become this person?" Or as a character in the film says, "I think who I want to be and who I really am are different people." HUMPDAY examines two best friends both in that place in their life, longing for someone to come along with a bucket of water and drench them, or a fire to light under their asses. For them the fire and water is making a purely platonic, straight, gay porno film together. Low budget at that.
The two friends, played genuinely and honestly by Joshua Leonard and Mark Duplass, need a quick change to knock them off the course they are unwillingly heading down. Ben (Duplass) has a great life with a great wife and a house with a white picket fence. But he needs more than just the dull day-to-day formulaic existence this life presents. Andrew (Leonard) has a parallel life style, as a free-spirited, traveling artist. But Andrew travels because he can never find his place in the world and if he does he doesn't stick around long enough to commit.
Director Lynn Shelton enforces this reality with her camera style and editing choices, keeping the shots close and the takes long allowing the audience to get fully immersed and take in the scene. Shelton, like Duplass and his brother, is part of the film movement known as "mumblecore," in which most of the film is improvised from a structured outline of the story. This style lends itself to the film perfectly, giving it all the more sense of reality and true emotion, going further in opening up the door for the audience to connect.
In the end, HUMPDAY attempts to go one step farther than bromance films like I LOVE YOU, MAN in the sentiments and connection shared between two male friends. This is the story of two guys who went to see I LOVE YOU, MAN and what their lives are like outside of the theater and in the real world. In the real world there are regrets and desires and crisis that one can only get out of changing something dramatically. For Ben and Andrew, that something dramatic comes in the form of deciding to do each other. And in the process, they find each other as friends and themselves as human beings.
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