Directed by: Lynn Shelton (My Effortless Brilliance)
Actors: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard and Alycia Delmore.
Scores: Technical: 75, Story: 95, Acting: 95, Overall: 88
Forget what you think you know about “bromances” from major studio movies, such as Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Hangover, even though it was number one at the box office for two weeks. Humpday, the new comedy that was written, produced and directed by Lynn Shelton and is part of the independent mumblecore movement (movies that usually focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, have improvised scripts and feature mostly non-professional actors), was expertly made to show what old, partying college friends really do when they get back together.
The movie chronicles the reunion of Andrew (played by Joshua Leonard, who originally made his mark in the independent world when he played a fictionalized version of himself in the mega-successful The Blair Witch Project) and Ben (played by Mark Duplass, a favorite in the mumblecore movement), several years after college. Andrew, who is still a partier and has just returned from Mexico City, asks to stay with Ben and his wife Anna (played by Alycia Delmore) in their Seattle home.
But only after a day, Andrew convinces Ben to get back into their old ways by going to a sex-filled party at the home of his new open-minded friend, Monica (played by Shelton), who he met at a grocery store. Andrew’s new friends talk about making home-made, amateur pornography movies for the HUMP! annual film festival (a real event that began in Seattle in 2005, which showcases amateur sex movies and locally produced pornography).
After consuming a lot of alcohol, both Andrew and Ben decide it would be fun to showcase them, two straight men, having sex together. The next day, after their hangovers are gone, they try to prove that the other doesn’t know anything about their lifestyle, and they decide to go through with making the movie.
Both Leonard and Duplass were the real stars of the movie, as they were comfortable enough with their sexuality to act in a movie with this sort of topic. They didn’t seem to care what people would think of them for taking roles that would let them explore their curious sexual sides. Delmore deserves credit for her acting as well, showing that unlike big Hollywood movies, women don’t readily give into what their husbands want, and stand up for what they think is right.
Shelton also deserves some of the spotlight for not being afraid to make a movie about male sexuality. While most other writers and directors wouldn’t even want to touch the subject, Shelton dove right into it, focusing on how Andrew and Ben related to each other, and showing that the idea of making a porn movie together had relatively little effect on their friendship. It also seemed as though Shelton allowed the actors to stray from the script and ad-lib some lines, which helped the movie showcase how men really act around each other.
Due to these efforts, Shelton, who won the 2008 “Someone to Watch Award” at the Independent Spirit Awards for her movie My Effortless Brilliance, was deservingly honored again by having Humpday not only screened at Sundance, but by also winning the Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Independence. Humpday was even considered for selection to show at the Cannes Film Festival.
While Humpday was rated R for strong sexual content, pervasive language and a scene of drug use and definitely isn’t appropriate for children, all men, and women who want to understand why guys act the way they do around each other, should definitely see this movie.
Written by: Karen Benardello