HUMPDAY1

“The difference between this and bungee jumping, is that bungee jumping, you just walk to the edge and jump, and you don’t have to have a hard-on to bungee jump.”

Newlyweds Ben (Mark Duplass) and Anna (Alycia Delmore) are deeply enamoured with one another. They live a pleasant middle class life in Seattle, and are making preparations to have a baby together. He’s a good husband, and she’s a good wife. Actually, she’s a better wife. She doesn’t even mind when Ben’s old friend Andrew (Joshua Leonard) rocks up to their house in the middle of the night looking for a place to crash. The duo reconnects immediately, despite 10 years apart, and Ben finds himself drawn into amateur artist and journeyman Andrew’s world. After drinking a little too much (OK, a lot too much) at a party, Ben and Andrew accidentally find themselves agreeing to a mutual dare. Spurred on by Andrew’s artsy friends, they will submit an “art project” to the annual HUMP! Film Festival, in which two heterosexual men will have sex with one another. Tres provocative!

HUMPDAY2

Ah, the mumblecore movement. Those young American auteurs-in-the-making hate the ‘mumblecore’ tag, but they should take it as a compliment. Some of the richest indie (and I mean ‘indie’, not ‘Fox Searchlight indie’) character dramas of the past decade came from The Duplass Brothers (The Puffy Chair, Baghead, Cyrus), Andrew Bujalski (Funny Ha Ha, Mutual Appreciation), Alex Holdridge (In Search of a Midnight Kiss) and the like. Lynn Shelton’s Humpday might very well be the best film to emerge from the entire scene. It’s a comedy that grows beyond any Apatovian expectations and expertly avoids being an ode to ‘Gay panic’ a’la I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

I really have to praise the bizarrely natural performances of Duplass, Leonard and Delmore. They share the same brilliant chemistry that has only recently been seen in Judd Apatow comedies. I keep bringing up Apatow’s name, mainly because the film – both in plot and tone – seems like it has emerged from his wheelhouse. But Humpday is willing to go where Apatow cannot (in fact, where no studio film can go). Believe it or not, the idea of gay porn is not to everyone’s taste. But this is not a movie about homosexuality or pornography. It’s about two men on the wrong side of 30, desperate to pull off (no pun intended) something of value. If this is the best option at their disposal, then by gum this will be their outlet. This will be the medium through which they define their lives. And I guess that is what ‘mumblecore’ is all about.