Review by Jack Foley
WRITER-director Lynn Shelton’s Humpday is a fun, if flawed, movie that succeeds by virtue of its intriguing scenario.
Essentially a situation comedy, it’s a film that channels the cringe-worthiness of The Office while attempting to expose the stupidity of the male bravado by putting two guy’s guys at the centre of a truly outlandish scenario.
Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard) are two former college friends who have long since gone their separate ways – Ben to settle down with a wife (Alycia Delmore’s Anna), and Andrew to travel as a vagabond artist.
But when Andrew suddenly shows up unannounced on Ben’s doorstep at 2am, they easily fall back into their own dynamic of macho one-upmanship.
Things take a more dramatic turn, however, when the two men get drunk at a party and agree to enter an amateur porn contest by submitting a “boundary-pushing” movie of the two of them having sex together on camera… despite being straight.
The question is whether they’ll go through with it, and how Ben’s wife will react if they do!
Shelton’s movie stands or falls on how quickly you buy into the scenario – especially the idea that Ben and Andrew could wake up sober the next morning and still persist with the idea.
And it’s further handicapped by the unlikeability of its two leads, who struggle to emerge as anything other than selfish individuals.
But there is a car crash quality about the story that makes you keep watching – amost in disbelief – as this hapless duo dig themselves ever deeper into the hole they’re creating.
And, to be fair, the actors turn in believable performances that rise above the absurdity of the situation.
Joshua Leonard, in particular, stands out as the cavalier Andrew… a lifelong child who can never commit to anything unless it involves a good time. He taps into the male ego well, even though you’ll struggle to tolerate most of his actions.
Duplass, meanwhile, channels the pent-up frustration and confusion of Ben well… pretending to be the stronger of the two, but slowly emerging to be the weakest, even if it means placing his own relationship at risk.
The real star, however, is Delmore’s put-upon Anna, whose expressions of disblief and anger are among the most believable in the film. She is the conscience and moral core of the movie, even though some of her reactions strain credibility.
We won’t spoil the ending by revealing whether Ben and Andrew go through with the deed, but we will say that the moments leading up to the will they/won’t they moment are genuinely funny and believably played.
What’s more, they help to ensure that Humpday finally wins you over to its offbeat charm.
Overall, Shelton has succeeded in creating a likeable indie hit that should, at the very least, have people furiously debating its merits afterwards. It’s well worth seeing.
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD Release: April 12, 2010