Humpday Film Review - an Offifical Selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival

Exactly what would you do to prove how much a friend means to you?

That is the central and unlying question that drives Lynn Shelton’s latest effort, the unexpectedly brilliant, bromance dramedy, Humpday.

Ben ( Mark Duplass) has a great life: good 9 to 5 job, white picket fence around a great home, and a beautiful cool wife Anna ( Alycia Delmore) with whom he has just started efforts to have a baby. Andrew ( Joshua Leonard) is a nomad artist and an “almost-do-well” college buddy of Ben’s who happens to land on the couple’s front porch one late night.

Alycia Delmore in "Humpday"

                                                     The two fall back into their rhythm of camaraderie and male bonding, leaving Anna trying and catch up. In fact the next day, Andrew has found a group of eccentric to hang out, get drunk and have dinner with. Ben gets pulled into the party, at first reluctantly, but ultimately misses dinner with Anna and lands home at three on the morning. Not only does she have to deal with Anna’s simmering wraith, but he must acknowledge the drunken pact he make with Andrew, in mixed company, the night before.

The Pact: In an effort to best a discussion of the atrocity of the pornography industry usurping the true cinema value of photographing the act of sex, Ben comes up with the ultimate expression of art: two straight men having sex. The gays and bis in the room say nothing; in particular that, apparently, there is nothing new about straight men doing same-sex porn. Now, in the light of day, Ben and Andrew must decide if they will go through with their plan to make the ultimate piece of “Art”.

The importance of going thru with this filming grows for Andrew, rooted in his seething, life-long desire to actually finish something, to do just one thing he set out to do. Ben too feels compelled to go through with the plan, for himself and in the name of art, but also for Andrew, in the name of their friendship. But will it be too late before the men begin to consider if their relationship can withstand the “next step” they propose to take, much let if their friendship needs such an injection of “commitment”.

Mark Duplass (l.) and Josh Leonard (r.) in "Humpday"

While this is unequivocally a bromance, I defy the motion that this film is homophobic. Homophobic is about hate and fear of the unknown. Humpday is all about two men trying to reconcile their intense platonic love, their enduring committed friendship to each other, and how they make the stupid conclusion that that commitment of friendship should, maybe, be consummated physically. Where most sitcoms and mainstream comedies too often concede to caricature, the characters of Humpday ring with an authenticity that is simultaneously refreshing and earnest, without compromising genuine hilarity.

Congratulations to the cast, crew and writer of Humpday. You have succeeded in filling a small movie with enormous warmth, humanity, humor and heart. It is one of the best films I have seen this year.

Humpday is an official selection of the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival, happening now all over Westwood Village through June 28, 2009.

Photos by: Ted Speaker

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