Miguel Arteta's Chuck & Buck, a major "buzz" recipient at this year's Sundance Film Festival (cue warning sirens), is premised on the false creation of writer and star Mike White, who plays Buck, a homosexual man-child still obsessed with his boyhood best friend. Variations on this emotionally stunted type have worked many times in the past (to underline the point, Arteta stages scenes at The Little Prince Motel), but filtered through a generic indie sensibility, Buck's persona is at once quirky, mawkish, and unconvincing. Photographed on digital video—perhaps for a home-movie effect, but the images are distractingly cruddy and blurred-out—the film begins with Buck reuniting with Chuck (Chris Weitz) at his mother's funeral. Though Chuck, a happily engaged and successful music executive, forcefully rebuffs his sexual advances, the simple-minded Buck collects his inheritance and heads out to Los Angeles, hoping to rekindle their childhood intimacy. When his persistent stalking fails to pay off, he puts on a special play designed to stir his friend's repressed memories. Unlike fairly recent models such as Pee-Wee's Big Adventure or Being There, Chuck & Buck doesn't take place in a giddy fantasy world or use its hero as a vehicle for social critique, but wallows in Buck's real humiliations for their own sake. The entire second act basically repeats the same scenario again and again, as Buck interrupts Chuck's office meetings and social affairs with his one embarrassing proposal, like Todd Solondz Presents Green Eggs And Ham. At times, Arteta and White deliberately evoke children's fables, but they can never reconcile these storybook elements with the cruel logic of everyday reality. The resulting train wreck is as predictable as it is emotionally implausible.
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