Drinking Buddies Movie Poster Image

Drinking Buddies

Lots of drinking in romantic indie dramedy.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 90 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Luke and Kate have a great friendship, but it's clear that they're both thinking about whether it should be more than that. This complicated question is made even more so by the fact that they're both involved with other people, and nobody wants to hurt anyone else.

Positive role models

Everyone in this film is conflicted by desire for one person even though they're involved with someone else. They try to be loyal and honest, but it's clear that sometimes this is quite a challenge.


Couples have intense discussions. A guy gets into a brief brawl over parking spaces.


Couples fool around and are soon after seen getting out of bed. A man and a woman flirt overtly, though it's never clear whether either of them will take it any further. A brief scene shows a naked woman running into a lake to go skinny dipping at night; her breasts and back are glimpsed momentarily.


Plenty of casual swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "p---y," "d--k," and more.


A few Apple products are visible, including iPhones and a Mac computer. An important scene features a U-Haul truck.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main characters work at a brewery and drink beer nearly constantly, at all hours of the day; they sometimes get pretty drunk. One man stands out for his preference for wine and scotch. A few scenes have people doing shots. One character smokes cigarettes.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Drinking Buddies centers on co-workers at a Chicago brewery who are wondering whether they should be more than "just friends," despite the fact that both are involved with other people. Unsurprisingly (considering the title), there's lots of drinking -- at work, after work, on weekends, at parties, and pretty much any other time -- frequently to the point of drunkenness. There's also plenty of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), a glimpse of a naked woman before she runs into a lake to skinny dip, suggested sex, and some smoking.

What's the story?

Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson), who work together at a Chicago brewery and hang out together after work, are clearly very compatible. There's a real spark, but they're both involved with other people (Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick, respectively). Then, when the two couples spend a weekend together at a beach cabin, everyone starts to question their relationships -- and whether they're paired with the right person.

Is it any good?


The film can be maddeningly slack at times, but it's rewarding nonetheless. Ambiguity is often the kiss of death for a movie -- that is, if it's mindless and stylized. But in DRINKING BUDDIES, ambiguity isn't just a cinematic device to prevent a filmmaker from making a commitment to a storyline; it's the thread that binds the relationships that are explored here. Kate and Luke adore each other, but they're just friends. (Friends who snuggle, anyway.) But Luke loves his girlfriend, and Kate likes her boyfriend enough ... though she also likes flirting with other guys.

One minute we feel certain about who deserves to be together, but then an exchange or interaction takes the story somewhere else, much like the way life works out in real life. Drinking Buddies is a smart, savvy questioning of male-female friendships, the ties that bind, and the loose ends that prevent outright entanglements.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the movie presents drinking. Do you think the characters drink too much? Does their behavior seem realistic/believable? Are there consequences for what they do?

  • Do you think Luke and Kate should get together? Why or why not? Does your answer to this question change during the course of the film?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 23, 2013
DVD/Streaming release date:December 3, 2013
Cast:Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, Olivia Wilde, Ron Livingston
Director:Joe Swanberg
Studio:Magnolia Pictures
Run time:90 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language throughout

This review of Drinking Buddies was written by

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Teen, 17 years old Written byNikki Fletcher April 22, 2014
i bet 14 year olds will understand the plot and when an innapropriate part happens, they can close their eyes!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byRub July 9, 2014

Depends on your kid

I liked this movie and was definitely able to handle the drinking and swearing. Younger people might find the movie boring because it focuses less on what the characters are doing and more on their relationships.
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 May 7, 2016

Extremely minimalist dramedy brings the realism

While I still have some big problems with this movie, it certainly a brought a level of freshness to me that I thought was all wrung out of the romcom genre...if you can even call it that. If this were a Hollywood project, you know exactly how "two couples who get together for a weekend and and then something happens and the whole dynamic changes" would go down. Instead we get focus on the small details. We don't get the hookup: we get the goofy, middle school-esque flirtation before the hookup. In this way director Joe Swanberg seems to be honing in on the more intimate details of these characters, mainly Kate (Wilde) and Luke (Johnson), whose dynamic throughout is will they/won't they. Now, first off: this movie shows these characters, with actually not that much consequence drinking CONSTANTLY. Like seriously. Besides movies like "Days of Wine and Roses" and "The Lost Weekend" where the focus of the film was alcoholism, I've never seen characters in a movie drink so often! Wilde said that sometimes the drinking was real, sometimes it wasn't. Take that for what you will, but also consider Swanberg had his actors ad-lib the ENTIRE thing!! That's also something I think I've rarely seen. Come to think of it...this movie had a lot of "um's." Actors are paid to say what's in their scripts, and an actual, genuine um is hard to find. So it had an improvised charm to it, and if you didn't know the whole thing wasn't improvised it wouldn't take anything away. It's a unique piece without feeling too experimental, but here's what gets in the way for me: you don't know anything about these people. You have no investment to these two good-looking white alcoholics (let's call it like it is!), Anna Kendrick's Jill likes art, and Ron Livingston's Chris likes poetry. You see their reaction to the romantic entanglements that happen in the movie, but you get 0 background on who they are as characters. Maybe that was a choice, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. But I love the effort put into this very small film, that probably spent most of its budget on brewery equipment and the quartet of famous people starring in it. Oh, and there's Jason Sudeikis, whose appearance can only be rationalized because his wife helped exec-produce it. Don't waste Sudeikis in a tiny part! Overall, I think this is a fine movie for the R-rated crowd to watch. I was rarely bored. It shows you even with no budget and no script you can still make a good movie. That's quality filmmaking, Mr. Swanberg.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking