“Chuck & Buck” is a sweet-natured, touching film that is often hilarious as it explores what happens when one half of a childhood friendship grows up while the other half doesn’t.
Chuck (Chris Weitz) and Buck (Mike White)were best friends as kids. Chuck moved away, though, and went on to become a successful businessman, complete with gorgeous fiancee and nice house. He and Buck are reunited at Buck’s mother’s funeral, where Chuck realizes Buck is still living in the past.
Buck listens to a record player. He drives an old car. He has a vintage answering machine. He walks and talks like a teen-ager (a credit to White’s acting prowess).
Furthermore, he wants his friendship with Chuck to go back to the way it was. Over time, we come to realize that the two experimented with homosexuality. For Chuck, it was just an innocent thing kids try; for Buck, it seems to have stuck, and he can’t get over his attachment to Chuck, having literally nothing else in his life.
Soon he’s in L.A., living in a hotel and hanging around Chuck’s office building, making a nuisance of himself. His obsession is funny, heartbreaking and uncomfortable, all at once, though it starts to drag after a while as the film spends too much time establishing this fixation.
In a desperate attempt to get Chuck to leave his fiancee and go back to being best friends with him, Buck writes and stages a play in a local theater — “a homoerotic, misogynistic love story,” as someone calls it. Borrowing from Hamlet’s scheme to show his uncle a play that will hit too close to home, Buck presents “Hank and Frank,” in which childhood friends are torn apart by a witch who casts a spell on Hank, causing him to fall in love with her.
There are only three ways a film like this can end. A character as desperate and lonely as Buck can either get over his fixation, convince his friend to re-join him, or kill himself. I won’t say what happens here, but the movie is marvelously sastisfying, even gently uplifting, as we see Buck’s state of mind eventually reach a stopping point.
Not for everyone, to be sure. The homosexuality is mostly subtle, except for one scene; aside from that, it’s a universal story about unequal relationships and unrequited love.
B (; )