Buddy Games: Spring Awakening
Comedy sequel calls to mind 1980s spring break flicks.
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Actor Josh Duhamel follows up his 2020 directorial debut “Buddy Games” (review here) with the sequel “Buddy Games: Spring Awakening” (in select theaters Friday, May 19 and available to stream Friday, June 2).
Where the first film was inspired by the likes of the Farrelly brothers, Todd Phillips and Judd Apatow, this one’s inspirations are further flung. “BG: SA” is 100 percent a spring break movie from the 1980s – the sort that would’ve been hosted by Rhonda Shear and Gilbert Gottfried on “USA Up All Night” – only starring a bunch of bros in their mid-to-late 40s as opposed to a youthful Johnny Depp and Rob Morrow à la 1985’s “Private Resort.” A dash of Ari Aster’s “Midsommar” is also strangely thrown in for good measure.
Bob (Duhamel), Shelley (Dan Bakkedahl), Doc (Kevin Dillon), Zane (James Roday Rodriguez) and Bender (Nick Swardson) have gathered for the funeral of their friend Murphy John Durfy Jr. (Dax Shepard). Displeased with the plans Durfy’s brother Jack (Jensen Ackles of “Supernatural” and “The Boys”) and Uncle Tommy (Lochlyn Munro) have for his remains, the buds steal Durf’s ashes with intentions of interring them where their hijinks began … at spring break!
With Jack in hot pursuit and Zane sidelined the boys return to Party Marty’s, a bar at which they received a lifetime ban. It’s here that they discover a bunch of whippersnappers have stolen their shtick and are holding a Buddy Games of their own presided over by Larry Lampshade (“Letterkenny” vet and Duhamel’s “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers” co-star Dylan Playfair). The pals are not only looking to retain their collective crown, but also want to reunite with Durf’s spring break girlfriend (Ginnifer Goodwin) to inform her of his passing.
You likely already know if “BG: SA” is for you or not. This is the sort of movie where a dude chugs vodka from the junk in a chick’s trunk and another consumes a blended cocktail containing a waitress’ soiled panties.
I did laugh a fair amount – seeing a young woman chuck a full Bud Light can at Shelley’s face and pop culture references to “Pac-Man,” Gargamel from “The Smurfs” and Duhamel’s appearances in the “Transformers” flicks tickled me greatly.
This does have a weird conservative bent to it. Billy Bush and Fox News personalities turn up in cameos as themselves and ill-advised jokes are made about wokeness and non-gendered pronouns. Gags about Zane’s gayness are prevalent and somewhat stereotypical, but not altogether mean-spirited. The buddies bust Zane’s balls (just as they do one another’s), but it’s apparent they have love for him.
The biggest strength of these flicks is the chemistry of their primary cast and yet Duhamel and his rookie screenwriters Gabriel McKinley and Rachael Thoele unwisely make the mistake of separating our titular buddies. Bob and Bender get roped into almost joining a cult fronted by Phoenix (Carmel Amit) while Shelley and Doc are holed up at a whorehouse. These bros are better together.
If “BG: SA” sounds like your particular brand of vodka, don’t make the same mistake I did by watching it solo, stone-cold sober and during daylight. This is best enjoyed with buds (friends), buds (weed), Buds (beers) and at the witching hour in which “USA Up All Night” used to appear.