Film review: Humpday

Magnolia Pictures, Seashel Pictures

STARRING Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore, Lynn Shelton, Trina Willard
WRITTEN BY Lynn Shelton
PRODUCED BY Lynn Shelton, Dave Nakayama
DIRECTED BY Lynn Shelton

SHOT BY Benjamin Kasulke
EDITED BY Nat Sanders, Sean Donavan
MUSIC BY Vinny Smith
DISTRIBUTED BY Magnolia Pictures

Screened at the Milwaukee Film Festival, 2009-10-01

Ben & Andrew, both early 30’s, reunite as Andrew unexpectedly shows up at Ben’s door after perhaps ten years. College friends of the wild variety, Ben has gone “white picket fence” (wife, home, “Where’s that baby?!”) while Andrew resides in the globetrotting, poor, arty, free polar opposite. Andrew represents, instantly, a challenge to Ben’s sense of structure, to his idea of himself as a free man. Ben’s insecurity manifests through overcompensation as he takes the first opportunity to prove himself to Andrew – by agreeing that they will produce and star in a porno of their own making for a local contest, and that the only sex happening will by their sex. I was skeptical too, but now I can report that it isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds. From here the film becomes a series of strained, often hilarious conversations between Andrew, Ben and Ben’s wife, spanning the Friday evening party when the gauntlet is thrown down to the Sunday night tryst at the Bonin’ Motel. Both men endure profound-ish crises of identity – and it’s great!

Director Lynn Shelton (who, incidentally, stars in the film as the model of a free, sexy human) shot the film in two weeks and relied wholly on the talent of her three leads and the potent chemistry they generate (pardon me for making such a comment, but filmmaking is almost 100% casting). While Alycia Delmore is a virtual newcomer, Joshua Leonard and Mark Duplass (of the Duplass brothers) have experience directing and acting. Leonard even hitchhiked through Central America in his teens, not unlike his character Andrew – until he was snatched up for The Blair Witch Project (“We’ll pay you four million dollars to stop wandering.”). I will not be surprised if many are not satisfied by the film’s ending. It left an odd impression on me, but not an unpleasant one. That’s all I can say about it.

written by David Ashley