Review: Drinking Buddies


Everybody always has that one platonic friendship where the line is constantly tiptoed upon that could lead to something more. As always, that move can never be made due to outside circumstances, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend. Still, proper restraint and respect should be maintained between all parties to continue at a level of decency.

…until beer gets involved.

[This review originally ran as part of our South by Southwest 2013 coverage. It has been reposted to coincide with the theatrical release of the film.]

'Drinking Buddies' Trailer

Drinking Buddies
Director: Joe Swanberg
Rating: R
Release Date: August 23, 2013

Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are really close co-workers working at a craft brewery in Chicago (Revolution Brewing, specifically). Besides making and selling the beer, their days and nights are spent drinking. Their tight-knit friendship, however, begins to inch towards uncharted territories when they inadvertently find themselves spending a lot of time together during a weekend outing with their significant others, Chris (Ron Livingston) and Jill (Anna Kendrick).

Suddenly, the line begins to blur as their attraction to one another begins to blossom into something more. Further complicating matters are Kate’s and Chris’ problems, as well as Jill’s pushiness for Luke to seriously consider marriage. With every beer downed, the tension rises between the two until a breaking point hits.

Drinking Buddies focuses on those close, platonic friendships everybody has that always flirts with the notion of developing into something more. Swanberg hones in on the cautious flirtation and uncomfortable awkwardness that tends to result from such scenarios for the film’s humor. Its appeal is broad, yet the jokes aren’t ever fully thrown into the audience’s face. Don’t get me wrong: you’ll be laughing out loud by some of the banter between Wilde and Johnson, but there are subtle cues that’ll have you nudging the “close friend” sitting next to you.

Kendrick shines in these scenes where the humor is low key as her facial expressions help sell the awkwardness between Jill and Livingstone’s Chris. There’s one scene in particular where a simple pause in her tracks sets the joke. The film is full of these little nuances accentuated by the actors’ performances. The chemistry between Wilde and Johnson is spot-on and truly reflect the types of friendships I’ve had and seen in my life. Johnson just has this everyman appeal to him that perfectly fits his laid-back character, while Wilde is able to blend her sex appeal with a “one of the guys” disposition.

Like I wrote in the review’s subtitle, Drinking Buddies really is as refreshing as a cold beer on a hot summer day, whether it’s a PBR or a local craft IPA.