(No longer in theaters)
Jul 10, 2009
Lynn Shelton’s marvelous chamber comedy Humpday butts up against the same sort of taboos as Brüno, and in its fumbling, semi-improvised way, it’s equally hilarious and even more subversive. It’s a dramatic neutron bomb, exploding inner lives while leaving social structures intact. Seattle city planner Ben (Mark Duplass) is living peacefully, somewhat snoozily, with his wife, Anna (Alycia Delmore), when his wanderlust-ing college buddy Andrew (Joshua Leonard) shows up at his door—a threat to his domesticity but not in ways immediately apparent. When the next day Ben goes to pick up Andrew from a bohemian bisexual enclave he stumbled into (a sign on the door reads Dionysus), he ends up stoned and with a sexual-revolutionary idea: For a local amateur-porn fest, he’ll make a video with “two straight guys boning”—i.e., him and Andrew.
The tension in Humpday is whether these old pals will, in the sober light of day, go through with their art project—and how they’ll justify it to Anna, who’s having a hard enough time getting Ben to bone her, even when they’re readying a nursery. Shelton (a dishy lesbian in the Dionysus scene) depicts the sexual twilight zone of male buddydom with satire and sympathy. Humpday is a bigger threat to homophobes than Brüno because there aren’t any flamers on display. Gay, straight, bi—it’s all shades of gray. Maybe Ben and Andrew’s manly wrasslin’ has no sexual component. Maybe it has a lot—or a little. Shelton gives every epithet a devilish spin, from the freely tossed f-word to the men’s sad realization that they’re “pussies.” I’d say this movie made me giggle all the way through—but that would make my laughter sound girlie. Which it might have been. Or not. I don’t know and neither will you.