Talk is cheap in hip wannabe 'Humpday'

"Humpday" is a chatty indie collision of pop culture trends, the sort of comedy you get when "mumblecore" wrestles with the boundaries of "bromance."

It gives you something to chew on, even if it is more self-aware and less amusing than its "mumbling" antecedents, "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" and "The Puffy Chair."

Lynn Shelton's film is about two bosom buddies who were hip, open-minded and willing to try anything back in the day. Naturally they're from Seattle. Ben (Mark Duplass of "The Puffy Chair") has settled down with Anna (Alycia Delmore) and started thinking family.

"We've officially removed the goalie" is how hipster Ben phrases their baby-making.

But when Andrew (Joshua Leonard) shows up in the middle of the night and is plainly still living a free life full of artistic (and sexual) possibilities, Ben questions his own path. He is caught in a tug of war between Andrew the self-absorbed adolescent and his adult life with Anna.

It's not just that Ben is missing dinner at home. He's gone off with Andrew to party with a houseful of arty lesbians. On a dare, he has let Andrew talk him into entering an art contest - "Hump Fest." They'll make a "What happens when two straight men have sex?" amateur porn video. They'll shoot it at a hotel that coming Sunday - Humpday, as it were.

"I love you man" was never more fraught with peril. Who will be the first to flinch? How far will Ben go to prove he's still hip? How far will Andrew go to prove he's hipper? Is either man secretly hoping that this little dream date works out? And how will Anna take the news?

Shelton's characters talk themselves into and out of this dare, and despite clever snatches of dialogue, talk this gimmick to death. Thankfully, much of the talk is glib.

"You're not as Kerouac as you think you are."

The characters may be slacker cliches, but they're recognizable. Duplass makes Ben amusingly conflicted, even if we never buy into what he has apparently bought into. What's intriguing in this set-up is what the dare might teach the guys about the nature of sexuality. It's not a whim, drunken or otherwise.

Even though "Humpday" has the mumble and flirts with hardcore, there's a hint of "Emperor's New Clothes" about a movie that's all chatter. It's not as Kerouac as it thinks it is.



2.5 stars

STARRING: Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard

RATED: R for strong sexual content, pervasive language and a scene of drug use

RUNNING TIME: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Opens for a limited run Wednesday at the Nickelodeon.