HUMPDAY: A Review
In "Humpday", a 2009 Sundance favorite, two recently reconnected best friends named Ben and Andrew-- both straight-- decide to enter an amateur porn contest (or "awesome art project", as one character calls it) named "Humpfest" by making a porno-- with each other. But don't tell these guys that it's "gay porn". According to their rationale, because it's two straight guys, it's "beyond gay"! Blandly attractive Ben (Marc Duplass) is employed as a "transportation planner", and he's seemingly comfortably living in suburban nine-to-fivery with his wife Anna. ("I gotta go to bed. I gotta do the job thing tomorrow!"). Andrew (Joshua Leonard) identifies himself as an artist and is something of a drifter; he's intelligent but still holds a trace of a frat-boy mentality. Andrew shows up by surprise at Ben's house at 1:30 AM one night, and the two resume their long-dormant friendship. (Andrew says to Ben, "We have different lives, but I respect the fuck out of you!") One night, they go to a party called Dionysus, and meet some artistic, sexually liberated people. After many hours of booze, pot, and free-spirited thinking, Ben and Andrew get the idea to do the man-on-man (But never say "gay"!) porno. Even after they sober up the next day, the "Should we or shouldn't we?" question becomes the driving force of the movie. Ben wants to do it in part due to a desire to satisfy some kind of creative urge, and Andrew wants to do it because he wants to see at least one of his artistic ideas come into fruition. Ultimately, they book a hotel room where the sex scene will be shot.
Such is the titillating plot of "Humpday". But if you're watching the movie with your tongue wagging, waiting for the two guys to get it on, you'll have to wait well over an hour into the movie before these guys strip down to their boxer shorts together. This little (i.e.: low budget) movie was released the same day as "Bruno". But aside from both movies appealing to gay audiences, don't even bother to compare them. While "Bruno" hits you in the face like a stray pink dodgeball, "Humpday" is essentially a filmed three-person play. It concentrates on character development and on conversations between two characters at a time: Ben and Andrew, Ben and Anna, Anna and Andrew. In one of the movie's standout scenes, Ben tries to explain about Humpfest to Anna (played by Alycia Delmore), and this girl is smart enough to know that there's more to it than what he's actually saying. Sometime afterward, Andrew and Anna get drunk, and Andrew spills the two friends' upcoming X-rated plans. The scene that follows, when the wife confronts the husband, is the funniest moment of "Humpday".
So, what ultimately happens-- or doesn't happen-- on the actual "hump day"? Admittedly, it's probably the most realistic option of what could happen, given what we learned about the characters throughout the film. However, the... ahem, climax of the movie may not be what a lot of viewers expected-- including this viewer. Credit director Lynn Shelton for keepin' it real. (But of course, the libertine in me had my own idea about an "alternative" ending. After you see "Humpday", I'll share it with you!)