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REVIEW: There's no real winner in 'Buddy Games'

REVIEW: There's no real winner in 'Buddy Games'

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Buddy Games

Friends square off in "Buddy Games," a competition designed to see who's best. In the film, from left, James Roday, Josh Duhamel, Dan Bakkedahl, Kevin Dillon and Nick Swardson. 

Unless you’re a complete jerk, there’s no one remotely recognizable in Josh Duhamel’s new comedy, “Buddy Games.”

Suggesting six friends vie in obnoxious competitions well into middle age, the film pits them against each other in a “Survivor”-like obstacle course that must have cost tens of thousands to construct. Never mind that most don’t have the money to buy beer.

This is a way to settle old scores, reveal long-held secrets and showcase Duhamel’s body.

Considering he wrote, directed and produced the film, he might have aimed higher.

Buddy Games

Dax Shepard has to avoid a lizard-like creature in one of the competitions in "Buddy Games."

“The Hangover” was obviously a reference but “Buddy Games” comes nowhere close. For starters, there are too many competitors, not enough individuality. Dan Bakkedahl and Nick Swardson are the two who stand out – as the most unlikable. The former loses the ability to father children in an early-day revenge move; the latter is deemed responsible. Both torment each other repeatedly, only to let Kevin Dillon, James Roday, Dax Shepard and Duhamel waste time talking about them. There’s a range of occupations here, too, but once you realize that’s not enough to remember who’s who, it’s just something that gets in the way.

Duhamel, the director, knows how to frame a landscape but he doesn’t have any skill with the comic actors. For the most part, he lets them mine the stuff they’ve done better elsewhere. It’s like hiring Ken Jeong and not reining him in.

While “Tag” went down the same road several years ago, it didn’t address the big “why”? Why are these men still playing juvenile pranks on each other?

Duhamel’s character has a big problem with his girlfriend (Olivia Munn) largely because he doesn’t want to move on from being the “Bobfather.” He encourages the idiocy and winds up in the finals as the thirst trap in these hunger games. (Bet you can’t guess who else is in the top three. Oh, sure you can.)

What’s surprising about the film is no one really changes.

These are victims of arrested development who can’t even find the humor in awkward situations. You’ll wince at most of the behavior (don’t drink the pina coladas) and wonder why a lizard-like creature would even bother to stalk them.

Because it’s far too cruel, “Buddy Games” deserves to be ignored, much like its participants.

The sad six are like the guys in high school who never quite got beyond junior high – unwatchable.


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