The vacation-gone-awry movie is a tried-and-tested formula. Ditto the bros-being-bros film. But when writer-director Pavan Moondi (Diamond Tongues) decided to combine the two genres with his new comedy Sundowners, he created something deliberately awkward and bravely subversive.
It is more John Cassavetes than Chevy Chase, and not so much a homage to, say, The Hangover than it is a stupor stinking of cinematic cynicism.
When the film opens, Moondi gently eases us into the life of wedding videographer Alex (Phil Hanley) and his best friend, office monkey Justin (Luke Lalonde, of Ontario rockers Born Ruffians). Both are stuck in go-nowhere jobs with dim social prospects, but all that looks to change when Justin is sent to Mexico by his delusional boss (a scene-stealing Tim Heidecker). Except, well, it doesn't.
Where most filmmakers would take such a premise to spin a har-har tale of drunken high jinks, Moondi uses the set-up to subvert expectations and plumb the darkest corners of his leads' insecurities. It is at times extremely uncomfortable, but captivating and engaging all the same.