We’ve all had that night when we’ve either said or done something that we probably would not say or do under normal circumstances (especially without the added effects of alcohol). But chances are, no matter how outlandish the situation or atmosphere, most of these nights do not involve the filming of an erotic movie featuring two straight guys. But that’s “Humpday,” a movie about two friends who, after a crazy night of partying, decide to make gay pornography together.
At the Michigan
Ben (relative newcomer Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leonard, “Prom Night”) are college buddies who haven’t seen each other in 10 years. So when they do, a night of celebration is in order. After a gratuitous amount of drinking, old college rivalries surface and suddenly Ben and Andrew find themselves locked in a game of machoism, with the two perpetually trying to one-up the other. The topic of an independent, amateur porn contest comes up, and the friends throw around the idea of two straight guys “boning” on camera as a potential art project. The cards are on the table, and throughout the rest of the film, Ben and Andrew probe each other about who will follow the plan through to the end and who will be the one to back out.
The male ego, in all its competitive and often impulsive decision-making glory, is hilariously satirized in “Humpday.” A friendly game of basketball between Ben and Andrew turns into a ball-hogging spectacle, ending with the two entangled on the ground cursing as passers-by curiously watch. Even harmless conversation between the buddies devolves into conflict as each person takes a defensive stance and attacks the other’s psyche at opportune moments. As ridiculous and over-the-top as the scenes may at first appear, a certain level of truth about male megalomania is painfully apparent.
Ben’s and Andrew’s exchanges and exhibitions are made more genuine through the detailed camerawork. The movie plays out like a home video — informal with a lot of focus on the characters’ faces and dialogue. The mostly improvised conversations are a critical component in creating the dynamic between two guys in a strange situation neither wants to back out of. On the downside, a lot of useless banter is thrown in. While the idle chitchat makes sense given the real-life nature of the film, it starts to feel a little lengthy for viewers. Minus these occasional hiccups, the general interplay remains crudely funny.
The true beauty of the movie is derived from its simplicity. It doesn’t harbor deep thematic undertones, but it isn’t superficial either. “Humpday” stays true to its premise of two men dancing around each other’s egotism. As a result, the film is great for both male and female audiences. Guys can relate to how stupid (and yet so important) their egos can be, and how far it can take them, while girls can at least attempt to understand what goes on inside the male mind.
The unique “bonding” shared by Ben and Andrew goes beyond a mere dare. “Humpday” is a testament to the power of friendship. Lifelong friends will remain that way, even with all the humps in between.