July 14th, 2009

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Seeing "Humpday" on a Wednesday

Paul Newman believed his most successful motion pictures began with the letter, “H,” such as **Hud,** **Harper** and **The Hustler.** Perhaps some studio executive noted this superstition. for this weekend features three motion pictures beginning with the letter **H;** **The Hangover,** **Humpday** and **Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.**

The comedy **The Hangover** has enjoyed the best word of mouth this summer.  This film features four best friends enjoying a bachelor party in Las Vegas and they encounter stripper Heather Graham and boxer Mike Tyson.  The film is rude, crude and socially unacceptable, but it is  gut busting funny that keeps the audience laughing even during the end credits.  Under the sure direction of Todd Phillips, a cast from television shows like **Nip/Tuck,** **The Office,** and a half way decent budget of product placement, **The Hangover** deserves it’s summertime success.
With far less of a budget, but with far more daring, **Humpday** is a low budget comedy that opens tomorrow.  The biggest star is Joshua Leonard, a victim of the independent blockbuster from decade ago, **The Blair Witch Project.** In **Humpday,** Leonard portrays Andrew, the shaggy college buddy of Ben (Mark Duplass).  Ben is happily trying to make a baby with Anna (Alycia Delmore), a kind and patient woman who excels at cooking pork chops.
Despite living a conservative and responsible lifestyle, Andrew inspires Ben to relive the glory days of their youth.  During a drunken party at the home of Monica (portrayed by Lynn Shelton, also **Humpday’s** writer/director), Ben and Andrew decide to enter an amateur pornography contest.  The gimmick would be for two heterosexual men to make out in front of the camera.
Under less competent hands, **Humpday** could have been a crude exercise in exploitive behavior.  Instead this independent feature becomes a comedy of manners and behavior.  Shelton takes the outrageous premise and makes the film an approachable drama and character study.  As a writer, Shelton builds tension within a scene, then lets the audience off the hook with a well timed punch line. 
**Humpday** will be remembered for it’s trio of ensemble performers.  As the Jack Kerouac clone, Leonard portrays Andrew as if he was just found in the Blair Witch Forest.  As the man with everything to lose,  Duplass crosses the fine line between being heterosexual, homosexual and metro sexual.  With less screen time, Alycia Delmore gives a very memorable performance.  Delmore is mesmerizing as she listens to her husband’s wild schemes.  Delmore’s face is very expressive and she communicates the character’s interior most thoughts.

**Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince** opened big for a non holiday weekend, grossing over 160 million dollars. This is extremely impressive, considering that **Harry Potter** has yet to open at an IMAX theatre.