CATEGORIES Comedy, Drama, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
Someone who has surpassed the levels of jerk and a**hole, however not yet reached fu*ker or motherfu*ker.
Two estranged brothers reunite right before one of them is to be married, only to wind up embarking on a bizarre road trip that will once and for all determine whether or not these two will remain a part of each other's lives. Directed by rising star Drake Doremus, Douchebag is great in its delivery of awkward, relatable humor – the kind that only presents itself when two somewhat shlubby, disheveled brothers are forced to spend some quality time together even though they hate each other's guts. Its low-budget, shot-on-the-fly vibe may not make it appealing to the big studios, but Douchebag could easy find its audience once out there thanks to a catchy title and accessible situational comedy.
Sam is only a few days away from his wedding to a beautiful fiancé who's head over heels for him. The final arrangements are being made, and now all he has to do is sit back and wait for the rest of his life to begin. But when his fiancé Steph takes it upon herself to surprise Sam by bringing his estranged brother, Tom, to stay with them for the wedding, the brothers find themselves together for the first time in two years and not really prepared to confront all their old demons. After a dinner conversation leads Tom to reveal that he was only in love once and it was in fifth grade, Sam decides it would be fun to track down this mysterious fifth grade girlfriend to see if she'd like to be Tom's date for the wedding.
After locating three women with the same name as Tom's fifth grade girlfriend, the brothers head out on the road in the hopes that one of these girls will be the right one. Sure, Sam – with his long beard and aggressive attitude – should probably be helping his fiancé put the final touches on the wedding, but it soon becomes apparent that this trip isn't so much about helping Tom find his old girl as it is about Sam looking to experience "relationship freedom" one last time before he gets hitched.
And that "freedom" consists of Sam constantly looking to talk to girls, either with the intention of setting Tom up with a date or because Sam just wants to see what it feels like to be that guy with no attachments or plans or deeply upset fiancé back at home. Tom, with his passive aggressive demeanor, eventually catches on to Sam's womanizing ways, but will it be too late to save Sam from ruining the wedding and making the biggest mistake of his life. Then again, maybe it's what Sam wanted all along.
Right off the bat with a film titled Douchebag, you're expecting one of these movies where it's all about one crazy character and everyone else is only there to service his or her wild antics. And while it's definitely thrown off some critics when they've come to find out that Sam is more normal and relatable than an all-out, over-the-top a**hole, I actually liked that aspect of the film because Sam isn't supposed to be some cartoonish shmuck – he's supposed to be that dude who says stupid stuff and hits on other people's girlfriends even though his wedding is only days away. Essentially, he's a douchebag ... but he doesn't want to be. And that's what Tom has to help him get past, but only after he gets over the really douchebag-ish thing that made these two estranged in the first place.
Doremus doesn't try to knock you out with fancy shot selection or a top 40 soundtrack, but instead lets the camera act as a third passenger on the brother's therapeutic road trip, carefully following along without getting in the way. Douchebag is short – and maybe a little too short – but it definitely packs a punch and creeps into those personal places you might not want it to explore. Everyone has at one point or another been friends with a douchebag, in love with a douchebag or just familiar with a person that's too selfish and unaware of the negative effects they have on other people. As such, Douchebag may hit close to home for a lot of you ... and for the rest, well, it'll give you enough warning signs to help make sure a douchebag doesn't enter your life anytime soon.
For more, including a brief interview with Drake Doremus, see our Sundance Primer on Douchebag