Buddymoon (2016): Review

A former child star gets dumped by his fiancé just before their honeymoon, so his over-zealous German best friend decides they should go instead. It’s Buddymoon.

It turns out, the journals of William Clark are not only filled with colorful descriptions of his two-year historic (and dark) expedition of the Louisiana Purchase with Meriwether Lewis, they are inspiration for an indie bromance film. Buddymoon (formerly Honey Buddies) is a journey, too, of two best friends trekking though the Oregon wilderness along the same trial as the explorers, mirroring many of the entries from the writing of Clark. Well, not really. It’s a sometimes smart, sometimes funny, mostly predictable film that doesn’t quite live up to its potential, but does leave an impression.

Buddymoon
David Giuntoli, Flula Borg (Buddymoon, 2016)

David (David Giuntoli) is currently in talks for the part of William Clark in a new bio-pic on his life. The audition went well and his agent assures him the producers are deciding between him and one other. That the good news. The bad news is that David is currently depressed. His longtime girlfriend Frankie (Jeanne Syquia) has walked out on him after she doesn’t get the attention she think she deserves. This is right before their already planned and booked wedding. David now does, as characters in these types of films do, wallow on the floor in booze and memories, looking at old pictures. But then, in walks Flula (Flula Borg – whom also wrote the screenplay), his best friend. He is dressed in a blazing-yellow Sun costume with intents to brighten his day. That’s what Flula does. It doesn’t necessarily work.

Soon after though, Flula realizes that David hasn’t canceled the honeymoon hiking trip he and Frankie had booked and with a bit of arm-twisting, convinces his friend to take him along for a ‘buddymoon’. Sure enough, once David is out of the house in the thick of nature, he lightens up. The fresh air, the grand vistas, and Flula’s constant motivations distract him enough to enjoy the excursion. Along the way, they do a little bonding, David grows as a person, and they get high on mushrooms.

That’s it. Oh sure, there are conflict of sorts, such as David needing his phone to work in case his agent calls, or to find out what that mysterious message is from Frankie, but of course it doesn’t work because he keeps losing the signal in the woods. But that’s the only obstacle. And it’s not even an issue really since, well, let’s say parts of this trail aren’t exactly as rustic as they were when Lewis and Clarke first went through. But this film isn’t about conflicts. It’s about friendship. Flula is by any definition, the greatest of friends. He is a kinetic tour de force of inspiring, uplifting, never-give-up, always-got-your-back kind of friend. He came to the United States after a drunken weekend in Germany when David passed through on a ‘soul-search’ before apparently inviting him to stop by. So Flula did. And he never left. Still, he is an infectious fellow that at times may aggravate but is always sincere. His thick German accent and less that mastered skill of English add much to that charm. He is a devoted friend who only wants the best for David. Interestingly, there is a layer here that hints at a loneliness, but is nearly imperceptibly touched on. When David and Flula are mistaken for an actual a couple of times (it helps that David’s fiancé’s name is Frankie to make some of these jokes work), Flula embraces the error, and we never quite learn if it’s something more deep-seeded or he simply doesn’t grasp what is happening.

Speaking of Frankie, her part of this tale is limited and unfortunately reduced to being mostly the “memory gaze” (the beautiful close-up that springs up in slow motion reminding us that our hero longs for his woman). In one line we learn her side of the breakup, and as this film has no conflict, ends up actually apologizing for it. David and Flula meet another woman on the trail, an attractive young blonde (played by Claire Coffee) who has her sites on David and whom David is sexually drawn, but well, as circumstance go, and as the film flat out refuses to give its characters any real challenge, is easily dispatched with. She literally goes away. By the conclusion, when David and Flula reach one of their destinations, it’s not even surprising what is waiting for them when they arrive. This movie is the textbook definition of safe.

Still, there is some wondrous cinematography and the pacing is solid. At 80 minutes, this is a refreshingly crisp, trim, and fast-moving little film. Director Alex Simmons, in his feature film debut, handles the action well and his history in television (Emmy-nominated) has certainly honed some good skills. He doesn’t take a lot risks, but this film is not concerned with a visual story. Indeed, without the high production value, this could be a two-part Network TV episode. By no means a memorable film, this is a breezy experience and one many might enjoy for its simple premise and short runtime. For the adventure-seeker, look elsewhere.

Buddymoon (2016): Review

Credits

Director: Alex Simmons
Writers: Flula Borg, David Giuntoli
Stars: David Giuntoli, Flula Borg, Claire Coffee, Jeanne Syquia

2.5
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