Film Review: Buddymoon

Alex Simmons’ hiking comedy has its moments, but the mostly dumb jokes aren’t helped by the ridiculous presence that is Flula Borg.
Specialty Releases

Buddymoon may be one of the stranger movie titles you’ll encounter this year, and it’s not a title that gives you much idea what to expect without knowing the movie’s central premise. 

This is the narrative debut of Alex Simmons, an award-winning documentarian who decided to make a movie with his former roommate and friend David Giuntoli, who plays a struggling actor named David who has been left by his fiancée Frankie (Jeanne Syquia) days before their wedding. His best man Flula Borg convinces David to take him on the seven-day backpacking trip through the mountains of Oregon planned for their honeymoon. Get it? It’s their “buddymoon.” (Honestly, the film’s original title, Honey Buddies, wasn’t much better, but at least that term is used repeatedly throughout the movie.)

The script is co-written by Simmons and his two leads, the type of collaborative effort that has contributed to fun films like Richard Linklater’s “Before” movies and Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip. By comparison, this comes across like a low-budget version of last year’s A Walk in the Woods without the draw of Nick Nolte or Robert Redford. 

Giuntoli is best known from the TV show “Grimm,” while you may remember German “YouTube sensation DJ Flula” Borg as one of the leaders of the Barden Bellas’ a capella rivals Das Sound Machine from Pitch Perfect 2. 

Buddymoon is the type of film that often plays great at festivals—it has won two audience awards, including one at its Slamdance Film Festival premiere—but sadly, the potential showcase for Giuntoli’s talent is often marred by the silliness that is “DJ Flula.”

Granted, this isn’t the first comedy in which a wedding being called off sets the groundwork for a journey of discovery, but both actors using their real names as well as similar occupations makes you wonder how much of their relationship onscreen is based on the one they have in real life.

Flula Borg acts as more of the comedic element to Giuntoli’s sad-sack straight man, but much of the attempted humor comes from Borg being this wacky, unfiltered German outsider who doesn’t understand the simplest of things. It’s not particularly funny, mostly Borg saying and doing outlandish things or trying to play pranks on his friend.

At times, Borg gets as annoying as some of Sacha Baron Cohen’s worst caricatures, making you wonder how either Simmons or Giuntoli can put up with him in their real lives. The best bits are when Borg shuts up in favor of panoramic shots of the natural environment narrated by David reading from the diaries of early explorers Lewis and Clark, the connection between the four men being the film’s ongoing narrative theme.

Much like A Walk in the Woods, the duo encounter a couple of oddball characters on their hike, as well as a cute girl played by Claire Coffee (also from “Grimm”), but none of them sticks around long enough to have much of a significant impact.  One of the movie’s funnier recurring jokes is how everyone they meet brings up David’s work as a child actor on a cheesy sitcom called “Little Genius.” By the time a group is singing the show’s theme song around a campfire, David’s humiliation and frustration with everything has started to grow on you.

Simmons clearly has a decent high-concept comedy buried somewhere within Buddymoon, one that may have fared better in the hands of a more skilled director, but the movie’s real secret weapon is his cinematographer, who makes the film look better than other similarly budgeted indies. (Granted, if you find a beautiful outdoor location like this one and have decent light, it’s pretty hard to mess it up.)

The filmmaker also finds decent upbeat music to move things along, but the tone becomes somewhat erratic as he tries to cut between David’s poignant flashbacks to better moments with his fiancée and Borg’s incessant antics. 

Even so, at a brief 77 minutes, Buddymoon is fairly harmless and innocuous, but also only as funny as your tolerance for the overuse of Borg’s idiotic shenanigans.

Click here for cast and crew information.