“Buddymoon” Review: Tired but Charismatic

Courtesy of Orion Pictures
Courtesy of Orion Pictures

Even though the character’s hike for seven days in Buddymoon, no new ground is really covered in the film. That said, that doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t able to enjoy the trail.

The story of how Buddymoon came to be is probably more interesting than Buddymoon itself. About a decade ago, David Giuntoli, Alex Simmons and Flula Borg all moved to Los Angeles and happened to become roommates. Giuntoli became the star of Grimm, Simmons became a documentary filmmaker and Simmons became YouTube famous, leading to some supporting roles in films such as Pitch Perfect 2. All three of their careers were taking off, and so when they all had a two week break, they decided to make a movie together.

I think this knowledge sets the scene for what type of movie Buddymoon is. With an incredibly small crew and a budget of under $1 million (financed by the three friends), the movie is an experiment in how to tell a coherent story quickly and cheaply. Directed by Simmons, the narrative follows David (Giuntoli) as he is sulking after getting dumped just days before the wedding. His friend Flula (Borg) stops by to try and console David, and makes the discovery that David never cancelled the hiking trip he was planning for his honeymoon. Determined to make his friend feel better and not let David’s money go to waste, Flula decides to force David out of his apartment and accompany him on a little hike.

This is an incredibly smart choice for a movie that has to be made so quickly. The location is simple: the woods, and the story is simpler: keep moving forward. David is also auditioning for a Lewis & Clark biopic, so there is a cute structure surrounding the seven days they hike, as well as some journal entries by William Clark. It is as simple as can be, and really lets the chemistry between Guintoli and Borg shine.

Unfortunately, as much as Buddymoon is a pretty good execution of a film under the circumstances, there are plenty of moments where it’s rushed production becomes very evident. Thankfully, there are no major technical errors, but the blocking and editing leaves something to be desired. The location seems to stay stagnant throughout the film, and it doesn’t help that the camera angles are also a bit repetitive. Although David and Flula’s charisma is apparent on screen, their characters aren’t very well developed. Their background stories are a little unsettling, and it doesn’t really make sense for them to be hanging out together other than just because.

Buddymoon did quite well at Slamdance, the low-budget alternative to Sundance, and it’s obvious why. Although the story is a little simplistic and the production is pretty low-budget, at 80 minutes long it is clear that the film knows its limitations. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and the end result is a movie that is just somewhat pleasant. The film is never too interesting and definitely doesn’t have a lot of layers, but it’s also not too hard to watch.

Buddyman is the perfect film for Netflix because it’s short, amicable and stars two actors from Grimm. As a debut feature film, it’s not bad. The actors all have quite a bit of talent and Alex Simmons seems to know what he’s doing in the director’s chair. Each member of the team has made something better than this, and this movie is probably a lot more fulfilling for the cast than the audience, but it’s not the mess that it could have been. Buddymoon is like a short walk in the park. It’s calm, a little repetitive and ultimately a somewhat satisfying experience.

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