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Chuck & Buck

Rated [R], 95 minutes
Starring Mike White, Chris Weitz, Beth Colt and Lupe Ontiveros
Screenplay by Mike White
Directed by Miguel Arteta
website: www.chucknbuck.com

IN SHORT: A truly creepy twist on a Stalker tale.

Here is the story of Buck O'Brien (Mike White), who has been caring for a terminally sick mom for the last five years. Her hacking cough and whiny breathing are the soundtrack of his life. While he folds his polo shirts he is content to remember a happier time -- a much earlier time in his life when he and his best friend Chuck were intimately the bestest of bestest friends. Though Buck hasn't seen Chuck since the latter moved away fifteen years earlier, well, mom's funeral offers the opportunity to get reacquainted.

Then Chuck had the bad sense to ruin it all by bringing . . . A GIRL!

Stop rolling your eyes. Cranky's already done that for you. In fact, I was going to pass on seeing this film for the same reason you may be thinking already. That you don't want to be spending your money on a "gay" film. Trust me, I've seen a half dozen or so of those flicks so far this year. Chuck & Buck is not one of 'em. What homosexual elements are in this movie will be touched on below.

Charlie Sitter (Chris Weitz), the grown up Chuck, has a high powered job in the record division at LA's TriMorph Entertainment. Hot black BMW in the garage. Hot blonde fiancee, Carlyn (Beth Colt) on his arm. The good life. And, yes, though he hasn't seen Buck in almost a lifetime, he does look forward to seeing his old friend, even under such sad circumstances as a funeral. What this fully formed grownup discovers is that old friend, mentally, is still eleven years old and utterly infatuated with him. A casual disclaimer along the lines of "you should come down to LA and we should get together sometime" is interpreted incorrectly and Buck packs up his toy soldiers and stuffed animals and humidifier and moves.

While Charlie and Carlyn do want to remain friendly with Buck, the "boy" wants the relationship on his terms. He spends his days waiting on the street opposite Charlie's office. He spends his evenings peering in the windows of their house. In Buck's view, Carlyn is definitely in the way and Charlie doesn't understand the true meaning of friendship. So, with the backhanded encouragement of a theater manager named Beverly (Lupe Ontiveros), Buck writes his first play, "Hank & Frank," a thinly veiled misogynist exploration of this threesome -- Carlyn's "part" is that of an evil witch who poisons the two bestest of friends in the magic woods.

While Charlie is utterly repulsed by Buck's attentions, Mike White's screenplay doesn't take the slice 'n' dice stalker concept in the direction you're probably expecting. Charlie doesn't keep his sexual past hidden from Carlyn; the one bit of experimentation between two boys is filed away as just that. Buck, of course, hasn't filed it away and he will make Charlie an offer that he can't refuse. Which is where this flick gets totally creepy.

The honest to Cranky truth is that Chuck & Buck works very well for the arthouse circuit. Director Miguel Areta tends to frame his characters way too closely, which only adds to the creepiness of the story. There's some real humor in the story as well, in the form of an utterly talent-less actor named Sam (Paul Weitz) who catches Buck's eyes for all the wrong reasons. Whether or not Buck is actually gay is left up to your discretion. There's a major Peter Pan complex at work here and you may interpret it any way you wish.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Chuck & Buck, he would have paid...

$4.00

If you read the fine print, the Weitz brothers are indeed the same gents that directed American Pie and wrote Antz and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.

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