Plot: Ben (Mark Duplass), and Andrew (Joshua Leonard), have been friends for years. While Bens settled down into suburban domesticity with his wife Anna (Alycia Delmore), the more freewheeling Andrew has spent more of his life on the road, wandering aimlessly from one situation to another. One night at a party, the two friends get drunk, and enter an amateur porn festival, where they commit to making a film which will feature the two men having sex with each other.
Review: HUMPDAY is one of those tiny, under the radar comedies that can sometimes completely catch you off guard. A few months ago, this film played at the Sundance film festival, and was very warmly received. Still, I figured it would just be another sex comedy- so I wasnt expecting much beyond a few good laughs when I walked into a recent press screening.
While HUMPDAY is indeed, a very funny comedy, theres actually a lot more going on in the film than I thought from watching the trailers or reading some early reviews. In some ways, HUMPDAY is like the comic equivalent of a John Cassavetes movie. Its shot very simply, with mostly handheld digital photography, and its completely free of any arty directorial flourishes. Probably the only conventional element of the film is the musical score- but even that is fairly sparse, and mostly absent. Its basically a series of long conversations, with very little in the way of action, but damn if it doesnt push all the right buttons.
While the idea of two straight guys sleeping together isnt exactly new (Ben Affleck proposed the same thing to Jason Lee thirteen years ago in CHASING AMY), this is the first time Ive seen a whole film devoted to the idea. I think its very common for two straight guys to joke with each other about being gay. Its just something that we do- and no disrespect to any gay person is ever intended. Heck- a good friend of mine, who I used to joke with in this way, came out of the closet a while ago, and it didnt affect my friendship with him in any way- except the gay jokes immediately stopped.
What makes HUMPDAY interesting is that both characters are completely heterosexual. It would have been a little too easy if one (or both) of the characters ended up being gay, and theres never any doubt that theyre both as straight as can be- which makes the climax- where the meet in a motel room to do the deed, all the more amusing (and surprisingly revealing).
In the leads- Duplass, and Leonard are terrific. Ive never seen Duplass in anything, but totally buy his relationship with his wife- who also is a fully three dimensional character and well acted by Delmore. Joshua Leonards the only one in the cast I had any awareness off, and that was only from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. He hasnt really been in anything major since- but hes great here. Some have compared him to Zach Galifianakis- but that comparison really makes me scratch my head, as the only similarity they share is that they both have big, bushy beards. Leonard is really good here, and gives the character a lot of nuance. Initially he comes off as a real wildman, but in an expertly conceived sequence where hes seduced by a lesbian couple, he proves to be nowhere near as open minded as he initially seems.
I should also mention director Lynn Shelton, who did a really solid job on this. I find it interesting that that the two best films about men that Ive seen this summer (THE HURT LOCKER being the other) have been directed by women. Shelton actually has a small acting role in the film, as one half of the couple that tries to seduce Leonard, and I must say, shes quite easy on the eyes.
If you want to find yourself a little summer gem, I highly recommend checking out HUMPDAY. While its probably not as piss your pant funny as THE HANGOVER, its none the less a really solid, beautifully crafted buddy flick.