Humpday Review: Homo-Sensational

December 15, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

stars-4

HUMPDAY: On general UK release from Friday 18th December 2009

George Clooney and Brad Pitt have done it.

Paul Rudd and Jason Seigel certainly tried it.

And Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were the first to make doing it in public socially acceptable.

While the playground-like mentality of rough’n'tumble, football-attending, beer-swilling brotherhood has been around for years, the modern day ‘bromance’ has only recently crept into the social consciousness.

Guys who can open up about their feelings and acknowledge they get something from their best friend they could never get from their other halves.

Humpday takes the two opposing sides of the brotherly male relationship, amplifies them to their extremes and throws them together to hilariously awkward, undeniably touching effect.

Wandering hippy and vagabond traveller Andrew unexpectedly turns up on college friend Ben’s doorstep late one night. Andrew’s settled down with a white picket fence and an attentive wife, while Andrew’s bounced from place to place in search of the artistic dream. The two quickly fall back into their old buddy dynamic and after a few spliffs and drinks they end up comparing lives.

While both may be lacking an undefinable something in their lives, their stubborness and one-upmanship lends itself to increasingly provocative dares. Egged on by their new lesbian hippy friends, they’re told of an amateur adult film festival that aims to reclaim pornography back to its artistic roots.

Determined to prove the other straight-laced, they decide to make something that transcends the way pornography has ever been done before. They’ll make a gay porno starring two straight guys: themselves.

With a synopsis like that, it would have been easy for writer/director Lynn Shelton to mine the subject for a whole buttload (aha!) of Kenny Everett-style innuendo and bad-taste gay gags. Unlike Zak and Miri Make a Porno however, the drive behind the grand idea is motivated by – on the surface – a willingness to create something artistic; something so gay it’s “beyond gay”.

It’s clear early on that this isn’t a sexual thing, it’s Shelton’s way of exploring the boundaries of male intimacy, and the identity crisis we all go through when we’re forced to hold a mirror up to our lives in terms of our childhood dreams and the occasionally underwhelming realities. Ben informs Andrew that while he’s been to Mexico and back, he’s ‘no Keruouac’ while the latter inadvertently awakens Ben to the realisation that his life isn’t as hen-pecked, straight and suburban as he may imagine.

As the duo’s stubbornness and forthright determination to prove the other wrong escalates to hilariously uncomfortable levels of awkwardness, it’s obvious that they’re just trying to define who and why they are.

Like Lars and the Real Girl, Humpday succeeds by exploring the most absurdly surreal concept in a grounded, humanly anchored setting. Yes, it may centre around two straight guys committing to ‘do’ each other in the sake of friendly rivalry, but the reality is far sweeter and far more touching.

If you get my drift.

Matt Risley

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