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USA 2009
Directed by
Lynn Shelton
94 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Humpday

Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard) are a pair of best friends from college who a decade later reconnect when Andrew lands on Ben’s Seattle doorstep. Ben, an engineer has got married and lives in the ‘burbs with his wife, Anna (Alycia Delmore) and they are as the saying goes, “trying” to have a child. Andrew is still living the party life and eking out an existence as an artist. When Andrew goes along to a party that Ben is at he finds himself carried away by the high spirits and in a drunken moment the two agree to make a film of them having sex together for an amateur porn festival called Humpfest. The next day both men wake up hung-over but unable to back down from their promise for fear that it will confirm that they are (a) too straight in Ben’s case or (b) not liberated enough in Andrew’s.

Although it is not easy to accept that anyone would really think two straight men having sex would constitute art (indeed the film confronts this towards the end and rightly concludes that Ben and Andrew are morons) writer-director Lynn Shelton (she appears as Monica, the party’s bisexual hostess) delivers quite a bit of fun with her low budget indie comedy particularly in the latter stage of the film when the two men meet in a hotel room to go through with the deed.

Both Duplass and Leonard are perfectly cast as the flubby-wubby males, each in their own way hiding behind their personas of conventional family man on the one hand, freewheelin’ bohemian on the other and Shelton’s script, much of which has an improvisational feel, tidily leads them to confront their choices and the distance they have travelled from their palmy Kerouacian days. Delmore does a fine job as the wife (who gets to confess her own moment of non-conformity in one of the film’s most resonant scenes).

Despite a slow and unpromising start, Humpday is a modestly-scaled, droll, even at times painfully accurate film about friendship and love amongst men and the unspoken rules that keep them apart.

FYI:  Kevin Smith would make a more conventional, heterosexual variant on the subject the following year, Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2009)

 

 

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