Humpday: Would-Be Seattle Pornographers Talk About Transgressive Art


Let’s save the snickering bromance jokes for another day, another movie. Local director Lynn Shelton is no Judd Apatow, nor does she mean Humpday to be a raunch-com. Though it is fairly funny, beginning with the premise: Two straight dudes (Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard) decide to shoot a sex movie, starring themselves, then dither about it as the clock ticks down to the bedroom scene. Duplass plays the married, settled Seattle yuppie of the pair, while Leonard’s shaggy ne’er-do-well arrives as the wandering, would-be artiste. Only he has nothing to show for his artistic ambitions, and these two are a decade past college. Both are questioning their paths in life, and paths not taken. The sex scene would shake things up, they figure; it’s an artistic dare (inspired by The Stranger‘s annual “Hump” contest), one last chance to connect with their inner boho. Duplass (The Puffy Chair) and Leonard (The Blair Witch Project) workshopped Shelton’s script with her, and their comfortably inhabited characters make this her most accomplished feature to date. (It also feels like a reworking of her male frenemies in My Effortless Brilliance, though a much improved Version 2.0.) The movie benefits greatly from our own “will they or won’t they?” curiosity, which parallels the two leads’ uncertainty. That said, Humpday is more amiable than novel. The film, as do these two filmmakers, scurries past the question of why their project would be so supposedly transgressive. We might like them less if they were deep thinkers, but we’d like Humpday more if they weren’t so self-obsessed with maintaining their precious indie integrity.