Movie review: Humpday -- 3 out of 5 stars

SexRoger MooreDeathIn Search of a Midnight Kiss (movie)

Humpday is a chatty indie collision of pop-culture trends, the sort of comedy you get when "mumblecore" wrestles with the boundaries of "bromance." There's something to chew on, even if it is more self-conscious and less amusing than its "mumbling" antecedents, In Search of a Midnight Kiss and The Puffy Chair.

Lynn Shelton's film is about two bosom buddies who were hip, open-minded and willing to try anything back in the day. Naturally they're from Seattle. Ben (Mark Duplass of The Puffy Chair) has settled down with Anna (Alycia Delmore) and started thinking family.

"We've officially removed the goalie" is how Ben phrases their baby-making.

But when Andrew (Joshua Leonard) shows up in the middle of the night and is plainly still living a free life full of artistic (and sexual) possibilities, Ben questions his own path. He is caught in a tug of war between Andrew the self-absorbed adolescent and his adult life with Anna.

Ben starts skipping dinner at home. He and Andrew party with a houseful of arty lesbians. On a dare, he lets Andrew talk him into entering an art contest -- "Hump Fest." They'll make a "What happens when two straight men have sex?" amateur porno and tape it at a hotel that coming Sunday -- Humpday, as it were.

"I love you man" was never more fraught with peril. Who will be the first to flinch? How far will Ben go to prove he's still hip? How far will Andrew go to prove he's hipper? How will Anna take the news?

Shelton's characters talk themselves into and out of this dare and talk this gimmick to death. Thankfully, their talk is at least glib.

"You're not as Kerouac as you think you are."

The characters may be slacker cliches, but they're recognizable. Duplass makes Ben amusingly conflicted, even if we never buy into what he has apparently bought into. What's intriguing in this set-up is what the dare might teach the guys about the nature of sexuality.

Even though Humpday has the mumble and flirts with hardcore, there's a hint of Emperor's New Clothes about it. It's not as Kerouac as it thinks it is.

HumpdayThree of five starsCast: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard, Alycia Delmore Director: Lynn SheltonRunning time: 1 hour 34 minutesIndustry rating: R for some strong sexual content, pervasive language and a scene of drug use.

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