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With Jim Sabatini

Drinking Buddies

Drinking Buddies
Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick

Rated: R  for language throughout.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: August 23, 2013 Released by: Magnolia Pictures

Joe Swanberg's latest has what it takes to entice more than the 'mumble-core' crowd with a character-like beer blurring the relational heavy discoursing lines in complicated, if discomfiting fashion to amusing, improvisational effect.

It helps mainly from the casting, his Chicago-set Drinking Buddies stars Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick, allowing at least Wilde to move out of her mostly big-screen comfort zone glamor (The Words, Tron: Legacy). As Swanberg shades his affection for observation with able editing and lensing, the latter complements of Ben Richardson (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Wilde and Johnson balance out the proceedings with a charm as the former would seem to hand the latter a narrative baton.

In the Windy City's microbrewery Wilde's Kate is an advertising colleague of Johnson's floor man Luke whose playful, coquettish way around her has them in the titular situation that could be disguising a deeper attraction. But, Luke is in a long term relationship with special-Ed instructor Jill (Kendrick of 50/50) and Kate dating, older, accomplished music producer Chris (Livingston of The Conjuring and much earlier Office Space). Their time together at a company function leads them to an overnighter at Chris's cabin.

Where Swanberg takes the viewer has an interesting texture that the main quartet embraces the spontaneity of it all with noticeable, natural feeling. The setup for many probably is of the cliched, awkward variety, before hitting an oddly effective spry stream-of-conscious thanks in part to small-batch beer. Jason Sudeikis who is in the fake family comedy that mainly hits below the belt, We're The Millers is the brewery proprietor and goes uncredited. The acting impresses because of the way it evolves to meet the emotional needs of the material with a very engaging Wilde and effortlessly wary Johnson leading the way during the goofy slumbering and uncomfortable silences.

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