Sundance Review: ‘Humpday’

“Humpday” is the type of movie with a plot that intrigues you, actors that endear themselves to you — and a mind-numbing lack of focus that sucker punches you in the face repeatedly until you just want to give up and walk out.

Here’s the breakdown: Two straight guys get loaded one night, come up with the wild idea of making a porn film, but can’t think of a taboo left to be broken. When some free-minded girls convince them that sex between two straight men is the only virgin snow left to trample upon, the two “bro-mance” buddies keep daring one another to back down … as the actuality of the situation keeps looming larger.

“The Puffy Chair” star Mark Duplass is the kind of naturally funny everyman who seems destined to eventually get a role that will break him through to the mainstream; the fact that he is in this film makes it more watchable than it has any right to be. His co-star, Joshua Leonard, has his moments but chooses to play “unpredictable” Andrew as an indifferent bore, a guy who seems to be holding back some sort of secret (is he gay? is he not?) that Leonard and director Lynn Shelton haven’t taken the time to contemplate.

The film is obviously a low-budget affair, but it feels like the anti-“El Mariachi.” If it was shot for $50 grand, it looks like $25 thousand; some people can make the most of little money, but “Humpday” looks every bit as if it was shot with loose change found between couch cushions. And aside from a decent gag here and there (Duplass’ wife’s eagerness to try and conceive a baby, even when she’s not speaking to him), the script feels about ten re-writes short of being filmable.

Most of “Humpday” plays like a poor man’s “Chuck and Buck” without the heart. Maybe it wants to make fun of the straight-guy bromance thing, maybe it doesn’t but this much seems clear: The film doesn’t like it’s main characters. And by the time “Humpday” reaches its anti-climactic climax, it’s hard to not feel the same way.