Josh Duhamel stars, directs, and co-writes the juvenile yet humorous comedy Buddy Games from Saban Films. Duhamel portrays Bob casually known as the “Bobfather.” Along with pals Zane (James Roday Rodriguez), Doc (Kevin Dillon), Bender (Nick Swardson), Shelly (Dan Bakkedhal), and Durfy (Dax Shepard), have a lifelong tradition of competing in absurd and mental challenges called the Buddy Games.
When a prank goes wrong after the latest “Buddy Games,” the group reunites five years later for one more final competition. With the chance to win a $150,000 pot. Now all bets are off, as the determined dudes’ fight, claw, and party for the big bucks.
From the trailer alone, Buddy Games is sure to draw comparisons to 2018’s Tag as both films deal with grown men participating in competitive games. After the initial prank within the first ten minutes of Buddy Games, I knew exactly where the film would go. Known for his pretty-boy looks, Josh Duhamel makes an impressive directorial debut. It’s crystal clear that Duhamel knows Buddy Games has a simple premise and makes a wise choice never to allow the film to overstay its welcome.
Duhamel is the star of the film. I commend his script co-written with Bob Schwartz and Jude Weng to avoid some typical pitfalls that comedies often fall into. One of the things I noticed was the scripts allowed Duhamel to have embarrassing moments just as much as his cast mates. I also liked that the “Buddy Games” reigning champion wasn’t a typical pretty boy but instead an everyman. The supporting cast is generally pretty good and has a great bond. Duhamel generally gives everyone a chance to shine and avoids unnecessary story arcs choosing instead to focus on the films’ comedic aspect.
That being said, Buddy Games is undoubtedly a HARD R comedy, and Duhamel pushes the boundaries as far as the MPAA allows. Nevertheless, for Duhamel not to have a background in stand up, his jokes, for the most part, land. While the actor and his co-writers use an abundance of gross-out gags, the execution and the cast’s commitment to the jokes make them work. Buddy Games is a comedy, so there isn’t too much required from the ensemble. All of the gentlemen do well in their roles, though, and I can only imagine how much fun the set was.
I did have one small gripe with the film, and it’s the resolution involving Bob and his girlfriend Tiffany (Olivia Munn). Now granted, I may be biased because I’m a fan of Munn. However, given her character’s portrayal from the beginning of the film, I just didn’t find the ending realistic. Although it was great to see Munn show off her martial arts skills in the movie.
Filled with gross-out gags and believable cast chemistry, Buddy Games is worth a one-time view. While the film won’t go down as a comedy classic, director Josh Duhamel displays a natural talent for directing, and I look forward to his next effort.
Final Grade B-
Buddy Games is available November 24th on DVD, Digital, and On Demand.