‘Drinking Buddies’ and its Almost Absent Plot

Drinking Buddies PosterI have a hard time watching movies where not a lot happens.  Sometimes they’re appealing because they offer a more realistic cinematic view and they can hit close to home.  Although 2013 film Drinking Buddies has been praised by critics, it’s a little hard to swallow.  If I don’t say a lot, it’s probably because there’s not a whole lot to say here.

The movie is about two coworkers who struggle over romantic feelings for each other despite the fact that both are in relationships with other people.  Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) both work in a brewery and both have a love of drinking and shenanigans.  They spend a lot of their nights after work drinking with coworkers and having a good time.  Luke and his girlfriend Jill (Anna Kendrick) seem to have a pretty good relationship, but Kate and her boyfriend Chris (Ron Livingston) don’t seem overly happy.  Kate seems a little too wild for Chris.

The four spend a weekend together up at Chris’ cabin in which Kate and Luke act flirtatious towards one another while Jill and Chris end up kissing while on a hike together.  If you think you have the plot figured out by now, you’re wrong.  In a typical romantic comedy, Jill and Chris are actually in love with each other and Kate and Luke will end up together, but we just have to get through an hour and a half in order for them to fully realize it.  In this film, though, Jill and Chris don’t actually have feelings for each other.

After the weekend together, Chris comes to the realization that his relationship with Kate just isn’t working and the two break up.  Kate puts on a front and acts like she’s happy about it, but she’s clearly not.  She and Luke spend a weekend alone together while Jill is in Costa Rica in which they get closer, but ultimately realize what they’re doing is wrong.  They get into a fight in which Luke grows upset with Kate for getting intimate with another coworker while Kate tells off Luke for getting jealous when he’s in a relationship with another woman.

In the end, we see that Luke is happy with Jill and he comes to accept Kate as a friend and nothing more.  I will say that it breaks the cliche that the two leading characters have to end up together.  A lot of romantic comedies base their plots around the idea that the main character is with the wrong person and that they actually belong with someone else, but Drinking Buddies is original enough to break that, proving that sometimes what they have – what Jill and Luke have – is pretty good in itself.


The romantic feelings between Luke and Kate are treated subtly and aren’t over the top.  You can see a connection, but it’s not made super obvious.  I’ve also read that there wasn’t an actual script for this film.  The scenes were outlined, but there was no dialogue given to the actors.  This gave it a more natural feel.  The dialogue isn’t overly elaborate.  It’s more realistic, which is kind of cool.

I jumped at the chance of seeing Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, and Olivia Wilde together.  They do a good enough job together, but it’s nothing spectacular.  Kind of like the movie itself.  By time you get to the end, you’re wondering what you just watched and if anything too significant even happened.  It would be okay if there were some sort of underlying message, but there’s really nothing here.  There’s not a lot of reason to finish this movie.


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