Can Two Straight Men Make a Gay Porno?

c humpday2 magnolia pictu Can Two Straight Men Make a Gay Porno?Humpday
Running time 95 minutes
Written and directed by Lynn Shelton
Starring Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard and Alycia Delmore

It’s interesting that Humpday, a movie as sneakily taboo-nudging and subversive in a lot of the same ways as Sacha Baron Cohen’s Brüno, opens on the same weekend but with a lot less fuss. The film begins with Ben (Mark Duplass) and his wife (Alycia Delmore) sharing an intimate happily married moment before his college friend Andrew (Joshua Leonard of former Blair Witch Project fame) shows up in the middle of the night to disturb their sleep, and tranquil domesticity as they know it. The two old friends have taken wildly divergent paths—Ben, a dutiful husband (he consistently calls home with “I love you, you’re so awesome”; is this dire foreshadowing or does this actually exist out in the world?) with a job, mortgage, and plans to start a family; Andrew, a charismatic nomad who hops from continent to continent, working on dubious art projects. Upon arrival, Andrew instantly meets a bisexual woman who hosts wild parties, Ben joins him for a late night, and before long the two drunkenly get into a macho one-upmanship dare to enter an amateur porn contest, where they’ll push boundaries and perceptions by being two straight dudes having sex with each other. For art, of course!

In the sober light of day, and with Ben’s wife rightfully pissed off, the two men are both uneager to blink and back down. And so Humpday goes well beyond Zack and Miri Make a Porno or You, Me and Dupree territory into a fairly interesting examination of male friendship, and hilarious will-they-or-won’t-they-actually-have-sex tension. Both actors easily portray some pretty complicated layers—Andrew, wrestling with his inner conventionalist; Ben, eager to shed his cloying respectability. The ending left me a little confused as to writer-director’s Lynn Shelton’s intentions, but it—like the sex!—ultimately doesn’t matter.

svilkomerson@observer.com