Not necessarily intended, but “Drinking Buddies” goes a long way in answering the question from “When Harry Met Sally…”, “Can men and women ever just be friends?”
Written and directed by Joe Swanberg, “Drinking Buddies” is an in-depth study of relationships…the friendships you make at work and how those friendships can carry over into your personal life. “Drinking Buddies” focuses on a group of co-workers in a Chicago microbrewery, honing in on Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson).
Kate’s employed as the brewery’s event planner. The lone female, she works with a fun group of guys, scruffy, easy-going Luke chief among them. The group has fallen into the habit of going out for drinks and other activities after work. It’s apparent that Kate and Luke have a real connection, but is it more than a strong friendship? Kate is in a long-term relationship with Chris (Ron Livingston), a fairly uptight music producer. Luke is in a committed relationship with Jill (Anna Kendrick), a special ed teacher. A couples’ weekend together makes one wonder if switching partners would make more sense. Changing the composition of the two couples seems a no-brainer–they seem that much more compatible. And that weekend does cause one partner to rethink the commitment. But as “Drinking Buddies” suggests, not every relationship works within the same parameters.
A very down-to-basics, unglamorous Olivia Wilde is a revelation as a guy’s girl who’s searching for love. Jake Johnson is terrific as the best friend co-worker who has a lot more going on underneath the surface than one initially surmises. Ron Livingston is very good in a subdued role of the boyfriend not sure he’s found his soul mate. Anna Kendrick’s hesitant, but stronger than she thinks performance is absolutely fantastic. “Drinking Buddies” supporting cast led by Jason Sudeikis and a great soundtrack make an enjoyable movie even better.
“Drinking Buddies” is a lot deeper than its previews suggest. Much of the dialogue is improvised which makes you feel like you’re watching real conversations with friends. It’s that genuineness that is so appealing and special about “Drinking Buddies.”