Chuck & Buck (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

Review byMatthew Turner21/11/2000

Five stars out of five
Running time: 95 mins

Thought-provoking jet-black comedy that may not be for all tastes, but is well-worth seeking out.

Screenwriter Mike White plays Buck, a 27 year-old man who has never grown up and still lives with his mother, surrounded by his childhood toys and an ever-present supply of lollipops, stored in an illuminated globe. When his mother dies, he invites his childhood friend Chuck (now "Charlie") to the funeral and makes a clumsy pass at him, before deciding to follow him to L.A in the hopes of rekindling their boyhood friendship. The only problem is that Chuck is now a successful record producer with a perfect fianceé (Beth Colt), and he doesn't want to know, so, with the help of theatre manager Beverley (the wonderful Lupe Ontiveros), Buck stages a play called "Hank and Frank", with the idea of showing Chuck what he has lost.

Shot entirely on digital video, this could almost qualify as a Dogme film, in the same vein as Festen or Lars Von Trier's The Idiots. Thematically, though, it's closer to Todd Solondz's Happiness, in that it contains scenes that are, at the same time, darkly hilarious, moving and excruciatingly painful to watch. Also like Happiness, it shares an infuriatingly catchy theme song that is guaranteed to annoy you for days. (Altogether now: "Oodly oodly oddly oodly oodly oodly fun fun fun!")

Given the commendably independent feel to the film, it comes as something of a shock to realise that the Weitz brothers (Chris plays Chuck and his brother Paul plays Sam, the hilariously bad actor Buck chooses to play 'Hank') are in fact the director and producer of American Pie. This is the film they made after the success of American Pie, and so, at the very least, is a promising indication of the direction they hope to go in as film-makers.

Both the main actors are superb, but it's really White's film, who pulls off the difficult task of being at once pitiable, sympathetic and deeply disturbing. This really is a black comedy about stalking, with the twist being that you end up caring more about the stalker than the stalkee. It's a lot better than it sounds, though, and devoid of the kind of gags you might expect from the American Pie team. Not for all tastes, admittedly, and perhaps better served by an 18 certificate, but if you liked Happiness, you'll love this. Highly recommended.

Note: Chuck & Buck is playing with Paul Merton's short film The Suicidal Dog.

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Content updated: 29/07/2014 09:40

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