Festival

Sundance Film Festival

2012

Judd Apatow and Mike Leigh Had a Baby, Her Name is HUMPDAY

Humpday
Humpday

HUMPDAY turns out to be what I’d hoped–funny and a bit more. For me, anyway, this buddy film about two straight guys who decide (almost inexplicably) to star in their own gay porn film was kind of a small version of Judd Apatow and Mike Leigh having a baby.

This film by Lynn Shelton seemed to play well at the Eccles Theatre. Based on a small sampling, the audience members who were most weirded out seem to be the gay ones. During the question-and-answer session after the screening, someone asked whether the film reinforces a homophobic attitude by playing off the reluctance of two straight guys to have sex. Later, Shelton said she had been worried about that response and was glad someone had raised the issue. Her answer was that she had shown the film to a conservative who was waffling on Prop 8, and that person was persuaded to vote against it after seeing the film because HUMPDAY made the case that no one choses their sexuality.

The two guys are played by Joshua Leonard (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT) and Mark Duplass (who co-wrote and co-directed BAGHEAD, which made a splash at Sundance last year). Shelton says she developed the characters’ identities over some months and then filmed improvised dialogue. I asked whether her technique was inspired by Leigh. “I feel a great kinship to him,” she said. “He uses improvisation to create a script. . . I create a script in the editing room.” This approach requires careful casting of “really smart people.”

The film’s “dialogue” happens as much as in looks as in words. When I mentioned to Shelton that Humpday seemed like a comedy of manners that might have appealed to a raunchy 21st century Jane Austen, she lit up. She is an Austen lover. Another influence: the great Ang Lee. “He’s this master of repression and subtext,” she says. “I want it to be all in looks and that you can just feel it.”

For the record, she also admires Judd Apatow. So when I wrote some posts back that HUMPDAYsounded like a woman’s take on Apatow territory, that was just fine with her.

Watch as Writer/Director Lynn Shelton heads to the Premiere of HUMPDAY: