Buddy Games

Review by Rich Cline | 1.5/5

Buddy Games
dir Josh Duhamel
scr Josh Duhamel, Jude Weng, Bob Schwartz
prd Michael J Luisi, Josh Duhamel, Jude Weng
with Josh Duhamel, Olivia Munn, Dax Shepard, Dan Bakkedahl, Nick Swardson, Kevin Dillon, James Roday, Linda Darlow, Lucie Guest, Stephen Farrelly, Jensen Ackles, Neal McDonough
release US 24.Nov.20,
UK 30.Nov.20
19/US 1h37

duhamel munn shepard

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Bakkedahl, duhamel, roday, dillon, shepard and swardson
A celebration of stupid things guys do when they get together, this movie may do the trick for drunken men looking for an easy laugh. But most will see that it misses the irony that one stupid thing guys do is make strained comedies like this, packed with "you had to be there" jokes that only pretend to be edgy. In his directing debut, Josh Duhamel almost holds it together.
It's been five years since a group of chucklehead friends got together for their annual Buddy Games, which came to a screeching halt after a paintball incident. Now leader Bob (Duhanel) needs to revive them to cheer up Shelly (Bakkedahl), who's just out of rehab. Bob's girlfriend (Munn) knows this is a terrible idea. But Bob calls old pals Durfy, Doc and Zane (Shepard, Dillon and Roday) to reunite, while Bender (Swardson) turns up without an invitation. And with seemingly bottomless wealth, Bob sets epic challenges that range from athletic tests to bar games.
In between the forced zaniness, there are some surprisingly nice moments of camaraderie between this group of men who lost their connection over the years due to the conflict between Shelly and Bender. But the script is less interested in riffing with masculine insecurity than in gags relating to bodily fluids and testicles, again without the irony. So once the game becomes about a cash prize, brotherhood gives way to greed. Until it's time for sentimentality to swell up, of course.

The six actors are clearly having a lot of fun with these roles, and manage to inject some specific personality into each one. These character moments are the only funny things in the movie, far more amusing than any of the the grotesque slapstick. So it's frustrating that each of the roles actually goes nowhere, pretending to take a journey even though it leads back to square one. Unfunny outtakes during the closing credits reveal just how hilarious they thought everything was.

Duhamel stages the games on a huge scale, adding a sense of Jackass-style documentary realness, especially on a crazed obstacle course. But much of the constant manly posturing is just dull, and quite a few of the set pieces fall flat, especially any involving an animal. Then there's the fact that many of the antics are downright irresponsible on several levels. Duhamel shows skill as a director, but he really needs to get outside this laddish bubble as a scriptwriter.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 16.Nov.20

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