Review: Honey Buddies – Chattanooga Film Festival 2016
Chattanooga Film Festival Review
Director Alex Simmons’ first foray into film is an endearingly quirky Bromance. It’s about a guy named David (played by Grimm’s David Giuntoli) who has been jilted mere days before his wedding to Frankie (Jeanne Syquia). In an attempt to bring David out of his depression, his German friend Flula (played by Flula Borg) coaxes David to go ahead and go on the hiking trip he had arrange for his honeymoon…and since it was for two, well, Flula manages to convince David of the wisdom of taking him along. The fact that David is an actor auditioning for a part in a new movie about Lewis and Clark allows for some entertaining voice-over parallels from the diaries of those gentleman pioneers that both echoes and contrasts the experiences of our protagonists, always resulting in heart warming humor.
There’s so much that could have gone wrong with this film. Bromance as a new spin on the Romance genre is different from the traditional buddy picture. It allows men the space to explore their feelings (something we all hate to do if the traditional romances are to be believed). American men in our cultural moment are much more open about their feelings, but still seem to squirm when they can be misinterpreted as applying to sexual feelings, so it’s a high wire balancing act to be sure— how far can the characters go before it becomes a cliché about one of them being secretly gay for the other? Honey Buddies manages not only to flirt with those implications, it flirts and then moves on without comment, as it should. This is, to be sure, a film about how much one man loves another…but it’s the love of friendship and sometimes the sacrifices one friend is willing to make for the other. It’s both simple and beautiful.
There are the easy laughs generated from Flula’s issues with the English language. For example he confuses Lewis and Clark the pioneers with Lois and Clark (yeah, Clark Kent) and his speculations as to why Superman would carry a knapsack across the wilderness when could have simply flown is just why the audience comes to love Flula so much. As David points out, Flula is unfiltered in his exuberance which teeters on endearing and annoying, especially for his friend David.
What is undeniable is the chemistry of these two men. This may stem from the fact that along with director Alex Simmons, both Giuntoli and Borg wrote the screenplay. It’s easy to imagine many improve session that led to the birth of these characters. Giuntoli is excellent at playing the wounded groom attempting to forget his pain while tromping through the mountain forests with his goofy German friend whose personality is the size of a Macy’s Day float. Borg manages to be completely innocent and free, but also manages the quieter moments imbuing Flula with his own depth of character.
This is a character piece at its best; however, it’s first and foremost a comedy. There are so many unexpected moments of pure zany. For example there’s a wondering medieval recorder band in the forest, adventures with mushrooms, an encounter with a guy who terrifies them about wolves attacking them, and an escalating prank battle between the two guys that doesn’t easily rely completely on language issues.
I usually make a final judgment about a movie based on its ending and Honey Buddies does not disappoint. As a film festival offering, it was for me the most endearing movie of the weekend. I didn’t see a single face without a smile as we left.