Unfortunately I missed Humpday (2009) when it played at the little independent theater. Then when it played at the Regal, I wasn’t too worried about seeing it anymore — it did look interesting, but from all outside appearances, it was just another one of those films with an “indie” aesthetic that have become so popular (Napoleon Dynamite, Superbad, or basically anything with Seth Rogen or Michael Cera). I had heard good things, but nothing amazing, then when I heard it referenced as a mumblecore film, I became very skeptical.
While I haven’t seen too many mumblecore films, and I will use the word to talk about films that I thoroughly enjoy (for example, Jimmy Marble’s bagel’s/snafu. Check him out on his blog, he’s pretty awesome.), it has some negative connotations. When someone says mumblecore, I think: plot-less, a lot of unnecessary dialog, pretentious philosophy, and moody/lonely/depressed twenty-somethings in awkward situations. I get enough of that in my life already. I don’t go out of my way to watch it in the theater. (A good example of a mumblecore film would be The Puffy Chair (2005). Sorry for the tangent, back to the Humpday.)
Watching Humpday I was impressed. There was a lot of unnecessary dialog. There was philosophizing. There was moody-ness amongst twenty/thirty-somethings trying to figure out their lives. There were a lot of awkward situations. But it was all done very well. The philosophical conversations didn’t come off as pretentious. The dialog actually allowed me to connect better with the characters, because — the goal of a lot of mumblecore — they seemed more like real people. There wasn’t a dramatic plot, but the movie kept moving forward, and it didn’t become boring at any point. The characters actions were realistic, and the situations, while a little weird, were plausible. Especially living in the Seattle area, I feel like I could know these people. There were some bits that could have handled a little editing down, but the improvisation made the interactions seem a lot more authentic. By creating connections with the audience through character development and prolonging certain scenes and exchanges, the filmmaker really made the audience involved in the awkwardness.