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Overall Rating
3.84

Awesome31.58%
Worth A Look31.58%
Just Average31.58%
Pretty Crappy: 0%
Sucks: 5.26%

3 reviews, 1 rating


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Humpday
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by Jay Seaver

"I think we may be morons."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: I haven't seen Lynn Shelton's first feature, but "My Effortless Brilliance" and "Humpday" form an interesting pattern, and not just in how both are kicked off by an old friend visiting unannounced. Unlike many female independent filmmakers who focus on making movies about women, Shelton opts to explore male relationships.

Here, the unexpected visitor is Andrew (Joshua Leonard), a globetrotting artist. It's two in the morning when he arrives at the Seattle home of Ben (Mark Duplass) and Anna (Alycia Delmore), who are married and ready to start a family. Andrew soon meets up with a local artsy crowd, and Ben's intention to just stop by for an hour becomes a long drink-and-weed-fueled evening. One of the guests mentions and upcoming art-porn fest, and Andrew and Ben hatch the idea of shooting themselves having sex as an expression of their friendship. After they sober up... Well, offering each other the chance to back down triggers a thoroughly incongruous macho response.

There's a scene in the middle of the film that is so sitcom-like that the audience might almost expect to hear a laugh track. From the plot description, you can probably guess what it is. Answering audience questions after, the cast member and crew talked like good indie filmmakers about how they tried to avoid that impression, but in all honesty, I think the sitcom feel of that scene makes it, and maybe even the movie as a whole, work. Shelton has already set up a kind of out-there situation and then pushed it further when it might have been a whole lot more logical for the characters to back down. Inserting a moment that conventional makes it easier for the audience to buy into the story. Besides, things do become conventions because they work on some level, and that scene is darn funny.

Of course, it's the ways in which characters defy convention that make them and the works in which they appear interesting as opposed to just well-executed. Andrew finds himself perhaps not quite so open-minded as he thinks he should be, while Ben may be a little more so. Then there's Anna, a supporting character who nearly breaks the fourth wall pointing out that she's her own person who exists for reasons other than how she relates to Ben and creates conflict in the story. In relatively little screen time, she establishes herself as a character who exists beyond the movie.

Credit Alycia Delmore for much of that; she got perhaps the trickiest character and not only sells us that Anna is angry and resentful, but also understanding and independent; when she's not on-screen it's because she's got her own stuff going on. Mark Duplass gets the biggest speeches, and delivers them with the right mix of sincerity and uncertainty; he's also got great comedic instincts. Leonard is good, too, showing his character stumbling toward maturity.

Lynn Shelton and her cast and crew - especially editor Nat Sanders - deserve all sorts of praise for making something that seems honest and believable out of what seems like a nutty concept, but also for making it funny. I came in dreading a story that was all about sexuality and closets, and though there are elements of that in there, it doesn't come close to overwhelming the comedy. This is a pretty funny situation, and Shelton runs with that, whether it be in the form of light slapstick, miscommunications, or funny dialogue.

Coincidentally, I saw this at a festival that opened with "I Love You, Man". I wonder just how far that one goes with the subject. I'm guessing it's not quite like this.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18171&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/21/09 10:30:22
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2009 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Seattle International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Seattle International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival For more in the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Traverse City Film Festival 2009 For more in the Traverse City Film Festival 2009 series, click here.

User Comments

11/08/11 hurdygurdy man Huh? BAD, really, really, really, really BAD!! 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  10-Jul-2009 (R)
  DVD: 17-Nov-2009

UK
  N/A

Australia
  10-Jul-2009
  DVD: 17-Nov-2009


Directed by
  Lynn Shelton

Written by
  Lynn Shelton

Cast
  Mark Duplass
  Joshua Leonard
  Alycia Delmore
  Lynn Shelton
  Trina Willard



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