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Humpday - DVD Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}With Humpday, writer/director Lynn Shelton combines her personal observations of human relationships with an excessively naturalistic style of filmmaking to craft a squirmy little tale that runs the male ego through the wringer. Though she works the taboo fringes of male sexual identity for maximum comedic effect, when all is said and done, there's just not enough there for the film to feel like anything more than a self-indulgent exploration of a paper-thin premise that didn't work.

When old college buds Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard) reunite after years of separation, they find their lives have taken disparate paths. Ben has settled down with a job, wife, and a home, but as he stares at forthcoming fatherhood, he's beginning to feel a bit restless. Andrew took the alternate route as a nomadic artist, but sees his life passing him by. As the two struggle with seeing themselves missing out on what they thought they'd become, Ben summarizes their relationship, â"You're not as Kerouac as you think you are, and I'm not as white picket fence as you think I am."

HumpdaySo naturally (as we're all inclined), one night on a booze and drug-fueled whim, the two find themselves entangled in an odd dare: to enter a local amateur art-porn contest by making a film of themselves having sex. They figure two straight guys having sex would be such over-the-top, envelope pushing art, they'd surely win the contest. Ben offers the following as both a reason why their film would win and as a justification of its outlandishness, â"it's not gay; it's beyond gay. It's not porn; it's art." Get it? Ben's wife doesn't, and neither do we.

And that's the main problem with the film: the â"hook" relies on Shelton's flimsy belief that the homoerotic undertones of buddy movies should be more than undertones. She's convinced herself that when brought to the surface as a film's main focus, these clever whispers can become the driving force. Specifically, we're asked to believe that today's young male is so caught up in trying to be cool, progressive, and spontaneous, he'd push the boundaries of his own heterosexuality to prove it. If you believe sexual limits are really that fluid and dynamic, then perhaps you'll buy into the contrivance.

Shelton's absurdist conjecture aside, the film does have some truly entertaining moments. Most come from the dramatic tension and squeamishness as the uncomfortable scenario plays out. But the uproarious laughter and breezy pacing are almost immediately deflated when Ben and Andrew eventually hook up in a hotel room. The scene might have had more places to go had their bohemian friends of ambiguous sexuality accompanied them, but instead, it plays out like an extended version of Neal and Del's â"pillow" scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles... only much more nihilistic and not nearly as funny.

Shelton creates some honest and heart-felt moments as she lets the actors mostly ad-lib the loose script. Even so, we soon begin to understand why films should utilize scripted dialogue, as some of her scenes become a bit tedious and talky. Duplass, Leonard and Alicia Delmore as Ben's wife, Anna, are actually quite good in their roles, but Shelton's wandering camera lends a distractingly strong air of â"indie" as she becomes addicted to the extreme close-up sometimes of random objects lieing about the room. Delmore particularly shines during her scene with Duplass when his Ben tries to tiptoe around confessing the EXACT details of his porn escapade to Anna.

Shelton is definitely on the rise as a refreshing new director having received some acclaim with her two earlier efforts We Go Way Back and My Effortless Brilliance, but with Humpday, her story is the weak link. Even strong acting isn't enough to sell us on this buddy movie gone wild.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
2 stars
2 stars
DVD Experience
2 stars

DVDDVD Details:

Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles: Spanish.
Language and Sound: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 - English
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; behind-the-scenes featurette; deleted scenes; audio commentary.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Featurettes

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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