Drinking Buddies (R)

Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston share a toast in a scene from 'Drinking Buddies.'
Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston share a toast in a scene from 'Drinking Buddies.'

Movie Info

Rating: * * * 

Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Jason Sudeikis, Ti West.

Writer-director: Joe Swanberg.

Producers: Paul Bernon, Sam Slater, Andrea Roa.

A Magnolia Pictures release. Running time: 90 minutes. Vulgar language, adult themes. In Miami-Dade only: Cosford Cinema.


The set-up for Drinking Buddies makes you sink in your seat with dread, promising one of those insufferable cookie-cutter rom-coms in which the story would be instantly resolved if people just told the truth. Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) are co-workers at a brewery who share a natural, easy rapport. They share the same sense of humor. They have lunch together every day, and they often go out after work for happy hour to knock back brews and play pool.

Kate and Luke are obviously in love, but they’re not fully aware of it yet; the line between affectionate friendship and romance is often tricky to discern. Each of them is also in a relationship: Kate dates Chris (Ron Livingston), who often wonders how he managed to land such a beautiful girlfriend, while Luke lives with Jill (Anna Kendrick), a spirited young woman who is cautiously, carefully starting to press Luke about marriage.

When the two couples spend a weekend at a rural cabin in Michigan, doubts start creeping into everyone’s head. There is a stolen kiss that is never to be spoken about, and there is a long night of playing cards and building a bonfire on the beach that, while completely platonic, practically qualifies as cheating. Drinking Buddies was written and directed with subtlety and insight by Joe Swanberg, previously best known to mainstream audiences for playing the annoying guy with an arrow in his back in You’re Next. Like fellow mumblecore-grad filmmakers Lynn Shelton and Mark and Jay Duplass, Swanberg uses his actors’ improvisations to shape the film on the set, and he’s comfortable allowing situations to play out without resorting to plot contrivances.

There isn’t really much of a story in Drinking Buddies, and there are none of the usual cliches you’d normally find in this sort of movie (one of the most critical events in the film happens off-screen). But the movie does have four indelible, lived-in characters who are all relatable in varying ways, and it has a keen eye for the ways in which we sometimes resign ourselves to less-than-satisfying lives, because radical change can seem scary. All the actors are strong, but Wilde is particularly good as the impetuous Kate, who doesn’t realize how incredibly selfish she has become. The actress’ great beauty could have been a distraction, but her performance is so complex and alive that she blends right into this world of ordinary, working-class people with modest aspirations who are trying to find happiness but often go about it in all the wrong ways.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

    Boyhood (R)

    Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Life Itself’:</span> Gene Siskel, left, and Roger Ebert get into one of their countless arguments during the taping of their TV show.

    Life Itself (R)

    There are scholars who blame Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel for dumbing down film criticism with their thumbs-up, thumbs-down approach, the same way they blame Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for ruining movies with the success of Jaws and Star Wars. But Siskel and Ebert accomplished just the opposite: They popularized criticism and introduced it to the masses via their PBS show in which they spent a lot of time debating (and fighting) over movies before delivering their final, yes-or-no verdict. The first version of their show, which was titled Sneak Previews and aired on PBS in the late 1970s, led me to read Pauline Kael and Film Comment and American Film and the Miami Herald’s late, great Bill Cosford as a kid. Suddenly, my nascent love of movies blew up: Movies weren’t just something you watched for entertainment. Sometimes, there was a lot to find beneath their surface.

Caesar (Andy Serkis) leads a war against mankind in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

    Yawn of the Planet of the Apes — excuse me, Dawn — has a big-budget sheen, a few terrific action setpieces and some of the most jaw-dropping CGI effects to date: You will believe these apes are real (although some of them are actors wearing costumes).

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category