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Saturday
Jul252009

Humpday

Humpday follows your typical comedy set-up, akin to something like You, Me and Dupree. Ben (Mark Duplass) is a happily married man and, along with his wife, is thinking about conceiving a baby. Late one night, Andrew (Joshua Leonard) comes knocking at his door, a freeloader who explains he needs a place to stay, to which Ben, who hasn't seen him in years, happily agrees. Andrew, in his usual spontaneous behavior, meets up with a woman at a coffee shop and goes home with her. He invites Ben over where a wild party breaks out.

This is where the film starts to deviate from convention. Here they find out that an annual event called "Humpfest" is held every year where regular people make amateur porn videos in a competition. In their drunken stupor, they make the decision to shoot one together.

I know what you're thinking. "Two best friends having sex with each other on camera in a porn film? That just sounds like Zack and Miri Make a Porno." And indeed, it is quite similar. But the difference is that Kevin Smith's film depicted a man and a woman who desperately needed to make money and reluctantly decided to break that friendship barrier and have sex with each other. In Humpday, not only are the two best friends both heterosexual males, they willingly want to have sex on camera, which they claim is for the sake of "art" in that it's never been done before.

Given this premise, I couldn't help but wonder how the filmmakers would pull it off. No matter how you slice it, two straight guys, best friends or not, would never agree to have sex with each other on camera for a large group of people to watch. This was the largest hurdle that had to be overcome for this movie to work. Surprisingly, that seemed to be the least of its problems. You do actually get the sense that these two guys could actually do it due to their homoerotic behavior; they touch each other constantly, jabbing, slapping, rubbing and grabbing each other. I know gay guys who are less gay than these two. With a continuous string of behavior like this, the story really isn't as unbelievable as you might think.

With this predicament out of the way, it should have been smooth sailing to the end, but that wasn't the case. According to various sources, a good portion of the dialogue in Humpday was improvised and you can tell. It felt disingenuous, lacking in realism because you could see one actor trying to think of what to say in response to an improvised line. Other times, you could see the actors trying not to laugh, or even worse, going ahead and laughing only to pull it back together and keep with the scene. This isn't a huge problem when the conversations are silly (which many of them are), but in scenes where sincerity was called upon, it becomes a distraction.

Humpday has a few great moments, including an argument over who will be "boning" who and a humorously awkward final scene where the two men are alone in a hotel room, trying to figure out how they're going to shoot their project. Awkwardness seems to be the new "in" for comedy, with films like I Love You, Man setting the bar high, but this may be the most uncomfortable thing I have ever sat through. It was brilliantly funny and uncouth, traits that were perfect for a movie like this.

But the rest of the film lacks this type of gumption. I rarely found myself laughing, but even when I did it was more giggles than guffaws. During some scenes, the tone was so misguided that I wasn't even sure whether I was supposed to be laughing or not.

Humpday is a rare breed of film in its attempt to try something different and new, but the end result is an aimless void that plays out more closely to "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" than a feature film.

Humpday receives 2/5

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