Film Review: ‘Honey Buddies’

A jilted groom and his wacky best friend go backpacking in this flimsy buddy comedy.

David Giuntoli, Flula Borg, Jeanne Syquia, Brian T. Finney, Claire Coffee, Hutch Harris, Oregon Renaissance Band.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5243424/

Winner of the audience award for narrative features at Slamdance, “Honey Buddies” is nevertheless a pretty flimsy indie buddy comedy that plays like a junior edition of “A Walk in the Woods.” Its laugh quotient will depend primarily on the viewer’s reaction to Flula Borg, a YouTube star whose Hans & Franz/wild-and-crazy-guy shtick here stretches pretty thin over nearly 80 minutes. On the plus side, documentarian and music-video helmer Alex Simmons does an ace job of packaging thin material in this feature debut; when the comedy falls flat, there’s always spectacular Oregon beautifully shot in widescreen to look at. Digital platforms seem the likeliest berth for an enterprising if formulaic exercise that lacks the marquee names or novel hook to tempt much big-screen exposure beyond additional fest dates.

David (David Giuntoli) is a professional actor thrown into a tailspin when his fiancee cancels their wedding plans at the last minute. (We never really do find out why, even after she shows up in the flesh played by Jeanne Syquia.) He’s planned a romantic week-long camping trip as their honeymoon, and to cheer him up intended best man Flula (Borg) shows up as scheduled, insisting they take the trip as “honey buddies” to get his pal’s mind out of despair and into some healing fresh air. Their very mild misadventures include meeting with a weird older hiker (Brian T. Finney), crossing paths with the flirtatious leader (Claire Coffee) of a larger backpacking group, being serenaded by a renaissance-music ensemble, and doing some hallucinogenic mushrooms.

This is the kind of buddy comedy where you have to take a giant leap of faith just to believe these two characters would ever be friends. Normal guy David hardly seems the sort to tolerate, let alone be besties with, a German goofball like Flula, who spouts enthusiastic malapropisms (“Nature, I suck you in!” he exalts), fears Sasquatch and is generally the kind of antic sidekick you wish came with a mute button.

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Borg — who is also a techno DJ, appeared in “Pitch Perfect 2” and starred in an unsold Peter Farrelly-directed pilot last year — does have some comic flair as well as a lot of energy. But the script he’s written with Giuntoli and Simmons errs in assuming he’s too much of a laugh riot to need situations and jokes that are funny on their own. Though he and straight man Giuntoli have collaborated for several years on various projects, they don’t sufficiently click as a duo here to make you yearn for future tandem vehicles.

Nonetheless, the results are painless, thanks in large part to Simmons’ nimble staging and lively editing. Plenty of aerial shots make the most of gorgeous mountain-forest scenery; all other packaging elements are very nicely handled on likely slim means.

Film Review: 'Honey Buddies'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, Feb. 3, 2016. (In Slamdance Film Festival — competing.) Running time: 78 MIN.

Production: A Round the Corner Fudge production. (International sales: Preferred Content, Los Angeles.) Produced by Jennifer Wood. Executive producers, Flula Borg, David Giuntoli, Alex Simmons.

Crew: Directed by Alex Simmons. Screenplay, Flula Borg, David Giuntoli, Simmons. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Peter Alton, Michael Lockridge; editor, Simmons; music, Gabriel Feenberg; sound, Adam Risner; associate producers, Joey McAdams, Jeanne Syquia.

With: David Giuntoli, Flula Borg, Jeanne Syquia, Brian T. Finney, Claire Coffee, Hutch Harris, Oregon Renaissance Band.

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