Bromance is taken to a delightfully bizarre new level in the indie film HUMPDAY

Directed by Lynn Shelton
Starring Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard
Released by Magnolia Pictures
(2009) 94 min.

I love the fact that these days the male character in American film is evolving.   No longer must they (not to say that most still don’t) fit into the stereotype of domineering protectors of women.   Men on film have been allowed to become more sensitive and openly convey emotions… even to their male friends.

The success of films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad and the aptly named I Love You, Man are examples of how I’m not alone in the thought that it’s nice to see men get a little mushy sometimes.   When I read that Lynn Shelton’s film HUMPDAY was a comment on this emerging genre I was intrigued but skeptical.   But after watching it recently I was completely delighted to see how without the use of constant swearing and over the top potty humor- which is a staple of the other “Bromance” films- Shelton has created a touching story of love and male friendship.

The film follows Ben and Andrew, two college friends who have drifted apart to lead two very different lives.   Ben has gone the more conventional route of marriage and a 9-5 job while Andrew is a listless wanderer who drifts from relationship to relationship and country to country.

After not seeing each other for awhile, Andrew has impulsively shown up at Ben’s door determined to rekindle their friendship and within hours of being back has already drawn Ben into his chaotic lifestyle.   After a late night of partying, someone dares the two pals to be filmed having sex with each other and enter an amateur porn festival.   Ben drunkenly agrees to the idea and then surprises Andrew the next day when sober is still interested in doing it.

It’s not that either of them is secretly gay.   Ben seems to see the “art project” as proof that even though he’s settled down he’s still capable of doing something edgy and provocative and Andrew sees it as a way of proving that he’s actually capable of seeing something through for once in his life.   With neither wanting to back down, they start prepping the “shoot” for the end of the weekend.

What makes this film so good is how real each of the characters feels.   I love Judd Apatow films but I always feel removed from the life of the Jason Segel or Seth Rogen character.   In Humpday I feel like I know these guys, like Ben is that nice married guy and Andrew is that wild party dude.

Apparently most of the scenes between the two male leads were improvised and that combined with documentary style of shooting really adds to that feeling of realism.   Whether they actually have sex or not doesn’t matter, what does matter is a new standard for the Bromance has been set.   Your move Apatow.

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