If it’s a choice this weekend between Sacha Baron Cohen‘s Bruno and Lynn Shelton‘s Humpday, critic/columnist Marshall Fine is recommending the latter. “The wonderfully funny Humpday, a comedy about the denial of homosexual panic, is being released the same day as Bruno, a comedy about a homosexual causing a panic,” he writes. “The two would make a hilarious double feature, but see Humpday first.
“First of all, Humpday is, strictly speaking, a far better film, with a script, a plot and interestingly developed characters. It’s a movie in which you can make an emotional investment that pays dividends by the time it’s over. (I’m not dismissing Bruno by any means — it’s wildly funny.)
“Secondly, Humpdayis a micro-budget indie that needs your attention far more than Bruno, whose advertising budget alone could finance a couple dozen Humpdays.”
Wells interjection: Urging people to see a poor film before a rich film for reasons of financial compassion cuts no ice with Joe Popcorn. When Joe and his girlfriend hear “poor film” they think “shitty looking, bad sound, possible Netflix down the road,” etc. When they go to a movie they want a nice luxurious movie-bath experience — a certain “extra emphasis/over the rainbow” quality that takes them out of the hellhole of their own heads. Humpday is well-lighted and looks just fine — no key lighting around Josh Leonard or Mark Duplass‘s heads, but a thoroughly professional-looking film. Just want to make that clear.
“Part of the humor comes from the way [Duplass and Leonard] mentally wrestle with the idea of having sex with each other — and deny to themselves that it in any way repulses them. They’re both open-minded adults; it’s just an experience. No judgment. But there are also a lot of laughs in the way Ben contorts himself so as not to disappoint Andrew, while, at the same time, not letting Anna see that he’s unleashed his inner fratboy — or even that the inner fratboy still exists.
“Duplass, with his massive head and slight bluster, is delightfully vulnerable: just a guy who’s trying to recapture a little of the fun of his youth without jeopardizing a life he loves. He’s a man who hasn’t quite rid himself of a kid’s impulses – and is easy prey for the manipulations of Andrew. Leonard has the engagingly laidback quality of a guy who usually gets what he wants because he knows how to play everyone around him. And Alycia Delmore, who plays Duplass’s wife, is perfect as the one person able to resist Josh’s charms.
“With its easy-going pacing and consistently funny give-and-take, Humpday is more than just a one-joke movie. It’s a perceptive comedy about masculinity in which men discover just what being a man can really mean.
And here again is my assessment of Leonard, to wit: “Leonard is developmentally arrested (stuck in his early to mid 20s) but he has this smooth buttery seductiveness and a lot of mirth and b.s. and oozy charm. He also seems compulsively, naturally honest. His character is that way, I mean, but Leonard himself seems to have a kind of unpretentious natural-dude thing going on. He’s a little like Owen Wilson, only warmer.”