Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Movie Review: "Drunk Bus" (2020)

Movie"Drunk Bus"
Director: John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke
Year: 2020
Rating: NR
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

The title "Drunk Bus" (2020) conjures up images of a film with raucous frat parties and eccentric characters doing zany things, a potential new-age "Animal House" (1978), "Old School" (2003), or "Revenge of the Nerds" (1987). This indie comedy is based on the experiences of writer Chris Molinaro and directors John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke and is pretty far removed from the "wild college party" genre, though it does still have a few tricks up its sleeve. The main focus of the story is on a bus driver named Michael (Charlie Tahan), who rides "the loop" that transports drunk college kids from bars back to Ohio's Kent Institute of Technology campus day in and day out. Michael has been out of his long-term relationship for nine months but still pines for his ex-girlfriend. He has given up most of his future aspirations and is stuck living a repetitive, mundane life. That all changes when he meets Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa), a large, tatted-up, punk rock Samoan that the bus company has hired to be Michael's bodyguard after he was assaulted by a drunk frat guy. Pineapple teaches Michael to adopt a more "devil may care" attitude and to stop stressing himself out so much over shit that doesn't matter. Pineapple is occasionally a bad influence on Michael since his advice often leads straight to trouble and toxic behaviors, all in the name of being more carefree and more independent.
Charlie Tahan and Pineapple Tangaroa star in the upcoming 2020 comedy film "Drunk Bus."
Charlie Tahan and Pineapple Tangaroa star in the upcoming 2020 comedy film "Drunk Bus." (Image Source)
From minute one, we found ourselves interested in Michael's journey during "Drunk Bus" (2020), but once Pineapple entered the picture, we were really all aboard. It's Pineapple Tangaroa's charm and endearing nature that makes this movie as entertaining as it is. Tangaroa sure knows how to light up the screen. His look is intriguing, his laugh is infectious, and his chemistry with star Charlie Tahan makes this the perfect college non-road-trip-buddy-comedy. Tahan is excellent in his own right. Michael is an extremely relatable character. We all know what it's like to struggle with dull, repetitious days that bleed into one another, especially during this pandemic. Tahan does a great job portraying a guy who has been caught up in the monotony of life for so long that he has no choice but to try things Pineapple's way. After all, what's he got to lose (besides a coveted safety award and the chance at a promotion)? As Michael breaks out of his daily routine and starts forging his own path in life, some humorous happenings occur along the way, including some light theft, yards of yarn, fireworks, lots of DEVO, night terrors, and some artwork that will leave you in absolute stitches. Of course, many of Michael's actions would get him immediately fired (if not arrested), but sometimes, leaving a terrible job can be a blessing in disguise, so if you're going to go down anyway, why not go down in a blaze of glory? Finally, SNL veteran Will Forte plays a cameo role as Michael's boss Fred. Fred frequently chimes in over the bus radio to provide a host of silly shenanigans, as well as to give Michael a sobering glimpse into what his future might be like if he sticks with the company long-term. The performances are solid all around, and they make the film as successful as it is.

Still, "Drunk Bus" (2020) is not without its flaws. It does come off a little formulaic from time to time, and it does fall into some of the typical indie movie tropes. Some of the screenplay's more dramatic elements feel conveniently timed and a little too inorganic, which is odd considering this film is "based on some true shit." This didn't detract from our overall viewing experience, but it was something we both noticed.
Michael (Charlie Tahan) aimlessly drives a college bus in a still for the film "Drunk Bus" (2020).
Michael (Charlie Tahan) aimlessly drives a college bus in "Drunk Bus" (2020).  (Image Source)
"Drunk Bus" (2020) is a fun slice-of-life/coming-of-age indie comedy with some enjoyable performances, some spectacular chemistry, and one of the weirdest looking paintings we've ever seen. Just don't think too hard about its familiarity and occasional plot conveniences and hop on for the ride.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ---/10
RT Rating: ~100%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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