A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Watching "Drinking Buddies" is like being the designated driver for a most uninteresting bunch of drinkers. Part of the fun of being the DD, at least for me, is watching your charges make asses of themselves while influenced by what the Baptists called "that Devil's Brew." The characters in "Drinking Buddies" are no fun at all; they're a bunch of whiny, passive-aggressive, unconvincingly drawn, unkempt-looking clichés. They ramble incessantly, because this film is "completely improvised," and fail to involve us in this "drama." I put quotes around that word because, in order to be credited as a drama, a film has to be dramatic. This looks like a string of screen tests and home movie outtakes of the actors getting hammered on set. It's "Grown Ups 2" for the art house crowd.
"Drinking Buddies" squanders a rich opportunity to present the world of beer-making. It ignores the process completely. The main characters, Luke (Jake Johnson) and Kate (Olivia Wilde) work in a Chicago brewery. Kate is the brewery's sole female employee, but little is done with this goldmine of a detail. Luke is her best buddy, possibly a former friend with benefits, who carries a torch for Kate despite being involved with Jill (Anna Kendrick). Kate's job is administrative; Luke's job is walking around the brewery barefoot while looking like the MGM lion after a night in a crack house.
Despite having access to all the free beer they can imbibe, Kate, Luke and the other male brewery workers go out to bars to drink, play pool and ramble on incessantly about things that hold no interest for the viewer. The price of a movie ticket will buy you a couple of beers. Wouldn't you rather be drinking them than watching "realistic" depictions of people drinking them?
But I digress. Luke and Jill team up with Kate and her significant other, Chris (Ron Livingston) to spend the weekend at Chris's lake house. The poster and trailer for "Drinking Buddies" imply that this situation will lead to some Bob and Carol, Ted and Alice style sexual shenanigans, but this is untrue; it takes up a very small part of the film. While on a nature hike, Jill kisses Chris, a believable scenario rendered unbelievable by the way it's depicted. Later, Luke ruins that "the director is showing real life" argument when he says no to Kate's half-naked request to go skinny-dipping. When Olivia Wilde asks you to go skinny-dipping, YOU GO.