The awkward interstice between college and grown-up, settled-down life gets a lightweight but agreeable treatment in “Dish Dogs,” a heartfelt buddy comedy distinguished by its crisp handling and spirited young cast. Pic’s likeliest niche is in vid release.
Dish dogs, as first scene reveals, are restaurant dishwashers. Morgan (Sean Astin) and his best bud, Jason (Matthew Lillard), have chosen the low-wage way of life, post-college, in order to avoid the traps of convention and keep to their vow of living as bohemian philosophers. Aside from scrubbing plates and pondering the universe, they get sage advice from a mentor named Frost (Brian Dennehy) and cruise around Southern California in an old Chevy pickup, looking for choice surfing spots.
At the wedding of a pal, the guys renew their commitment to non-commitment, but reality begins to loom. Jason encounters an old flame, Molly (Maitland Ward), and realizes that he still misses her. And Morgan starts to develop a crush on a smart stripper (Shannon Elizabeth) who he met at the bachelor party.
When cracks in the friendship appear, Jason finally admits he’s not the serious philosopher Morgan wishes he were. Morgan, for his part, doesn’t take the lack of faith lightly; his anger at being abandoned by his best friend precipitates both a nasty spat and an unexpected bout of soul-searching. Naturally, the friendship survives once the loner decides to join the crowd.
Leads Astin and Lillard prove expertly relaxed as the dudes, giving pic much of its genial, unprepossessing charms. Helmer Robert Kubilos gets nice perfs from other cast members as well, and provides a well-rendered visual setting with a summery, SoCal feel. Tech credits are fine.