Honey Buddies, a movie that knows how to party
The Germans have a certain word for the feeling of being alone in the woods: waldeinsamkeit. While Honey Buddies prominently features exactly one German character as well as the German language, the word goes without mention. Probably because the characters, much like us, are never truly alone—even when in the woods.
As the title suggests, this is indeed a buddy film. So, while it does not portray solitude, it certainly brings us close to the sense of wonder one feels in the forest, a place deep with mystery, beauty, and danger, where friends with frayed bonds have time and space to heal. It’s a bit like Old Joy with a sense of humor. And like Kelly Reichardt’s seminal film, Alex Simmons’ Honey Buddies revels in the spectacle of an Oregon forest in springtime: waterfalls, mountains, even wolves! Both films wander and lust; both are worth watching. But where Reichardt’s was a somber story with homoerotic undertones, Honey Buddies is a bromantic comedy that laughs with its exaggerated overtones. At the end of the day, this is a movie that knows how to party.
David, who just auditioned for the role of William Clark, of Lewis and Clark, sits in an empty living room drinking rose and shredding wedding invitations one at a time while his best man, Flula, races to him in a smart car dressed as the sun. They drink from bottles of the wedding wine and decide to go on the honeymoon David had planned, a one-week backpacking trip, together.
Sections of Clark’s journal parallel the characters and their journey through some of the same woods. The film’s handling of Clark’s racism is commendable, with the German Flula condemning superman’s views on slavery (you’ll just have to see it to understand). David and Flula make a lot of rookie mistakes that are good to be aware of. Most notably, not having a physical map on a multi-day trek. But this isn’t a film about backpacking. It’s about getting out of your own way, and finding yourself wherever it is you are.
The film finds its feet in the silly hands of Flula Borg, a German DJ whose YouTube channel boasts nearly a million subscribers. He charms his way into one’s heart with his goofy, Herzog-like presence. His unwavering joie de vivre, devotion to his friend, and willingness to accept the moment for what it is, propel the film, peppering it with nuggets of presumably ad-libbed absurdity along the way. He’s sure to be a rising star—and will be in attendance at AIFF!