It's just a coincidence that Lynn Shelton's wonderfully funny Humpday, a comedy about the denial of homosexual panic, is being released Friday, the same day as Sacha Baron Cohen's Bruno, a comedy about a homosexual causing a panic.
The two would make a hilarious double feature. But if I had to recommend one to see first, it would be Humpday, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, Humpday is, strictly speaking, a far better film, with a script, a plot and interestingly developed characters. It's a movie in which you can make an emotional investment that pays dividends by the time it's over. (I'm not dismissing Bruno by any means; it's wildly funny. More about it later this week.)
Secondly, Humpday is a micro-budget indie that needs your attention far more than Bruno, whose advertising budget alone could finance a couple dozen Humpdays.
A hit at Sundance this year, Humpday stars Mark Duplass and Josh Leonard as a pair of college pals who haven't seen each other in 10 years. Ben (Duplass) is a transportation engineer in Seattle, married, trying to have a baby with wife Anna (Alycia Delmore). One night, long after lights out, the doorbell rings: It's Andrew (Leonard), dropping in for an unannounced stay.
Ben and Andrew apparently were quite the wild men back in the day -- and Andrew still chases fun with a vengeance, living an itinerant life as an "artist," though his "art" remains unspecified. Ben, on the other hand, has tamed the beast within and tried to focus on building a life with Anna; he's chosen domestication over the searcher's life.
But then that guy thing kicks in: Suddenly, Ben is giving off the "Hey, I'm still my own boss -- no woman holds my leash" vibe with his old friend, when, in fact, he likes being married. On his first day in town, Andrew finds a party to attach himself to, while Ben is at work. When Ben arrives to pick up Andrew, he winds up staying at the party, drinking and smoking away the evening. Before Ben knows it, the two of them have blown off a special dinner that Anna has cooked for Andrew.
Ben is all apologies to his wife, though he doesn't mention taking a dare that Andrew throws out at the party. It comes during a discussion of Seattle's annual amateur porn contest. Wouldn't it be funny, Andrew submits, if he and Ben -- two straight guys -- were to make a gay porn. Everybody laughs -- until Andrew offers that Ben is probably too suburban-married to actually do it. Macho-response mechanism -- engage!
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