Director: Josh Duhamel
Starring: Josh Duhamel, Dan Bakkedahl, Kevin Dillon, Olivia Munn, James Road, Dax Shepard and Nick Swardson
Run Time: 96 minutes
The comedic tone for Buddy Games is set within the opening 10 minutes and it isn’t subtle or pretty. Featuring in your face humour (literally), it’s unashamedly laddish and immature featuring a bunch of middle-aged men desperately attempting to relive their youth in a series of physical and mental challenges known as, The Buddy Games. To the victor goes the spoils. Well, a bucket with the word ‘Champ’ written on it. Their beer-chugging, hot-dog swallowing, boorish banter is as pathetic as it is puerile, but, more importantly, it just so happens to be bloody funny.
Obnoxious bully Sheldon (Dan Bakkedahl) has won the games for the last six years, something that victimised Bender (Nick Swardson) resents. When a prank goes balls up, the gang split and go their separate ways. This hits Sheldon the hardest and he finds himself in a dark place. Lacking purpose and direction, his mother pushes Bob (Josh Duhamel) into reuniting the boys for one final Buddy Games to get him back on the road to recovery. As events progress and the boys battle for the bucket, old wounds are reopened, relationships compromised and their pasts are revealed to not be as clear cut as they thought they were.
In the director’s chair and also on writing duties is the ludicrously handsome Josh Duhamel and he’s assembled a fine ensemble cast. Whilst most of the lads have enough bromance to sink their teeth into, Doc (Kevin Dillon) and Zane (James Roday) find themselves as peripheral characters with no real identity and nowhere near enough to do. There’s a likeable charm to all of them though, regardless of their unlikable personalities, which is testament to their acting abilities and you can’t help but want to see more of their antics.
Duhamel, Bakkedahl and Swardson have the lion’s share of dialogue and all three are clearly having a blast, particularly Swardson. His high energy performance and manic anger doesn’t disappoint. Very much a film for the boys, Olivia Munn manages to make the most of a minor part and showcases her skills to leave her mark.
Some hilarious set pieces include an explosive speed-dating challenge, a Komodo Dragon standoff and you’ll never look at a Pina Colada (should that be Penis Colada?) the same way again. However, not all trials quite hit the intended heights aimed for. Some of the grosser elements are shocking for the sake of being shocking, but it mostly works thanks to the efforts of a game cast giving it their all. There’s no denying their chemistry and Josh Duhamel’s script is full of laughs.
Brash, boisterous yet with a quirky, juvenile and somehow endearing charm, Buddy Games might not earn a gold medal, but it certainly deserves to be on the podium.
Buddy Games is available on digital download, to buy or rent, from November 30th.