When I think of the term “buddy picture,” two types of films come to mind. The first kind is where there’s a bunch of buddies who can’t seem to grow up. You know, like the bros in “Knocked Up,” “Swingers” or “Beautiful Girls.” Then there’s the kind of buddy picture in which the buddies must hearken back to when they were kids in order to gain some kind of perspective on their lives. Movies that come to mind here are “Sleepers,” “Mystic River” and in some ways, “Stephen King’s: It.” Todd Breau’s dark-comedy “Throwing Stars” falls into the secondary example.
Buddies Mark (Grimes), Bobby (London), Hutto (DeLuise) and boneheaded Laith (Campbell) are the type of crew that grew up together and have managed to stay friends as they’ve entered their thirties. Mark and Bobby have fallen on hard times as the former has been fired from his surgery job and the latter has recently lost his wife. But things are looking up for Laith as he has a “too-hot-for-him” girlfriend and Hutto who’s expecting his first child with his wife. However all four buds are soon sucked into a murder cover-up due to an ill conceived drug deal coupled with an accident involving a throwing star, a broken window and several animals trained to be in porn films.
As you may have guessed from that description, “Throwing Stars” is a really funny and dark movie. I found myself laughing out loud several times as the stakes kept raising and you’re never quite sure what will happen next. But I also felt like the structure of the film was a little too obvious. For every funny and out of left field twist, there’s another plot twist that’s too neat and clean for a film that seems so willing to push the envelope. By the end of the film I felt like things might be a little too nicely wrapped up.
Yet through all of that, I still think “Throwing Stars” is a worthwhile endeavor. All four actors play perfectly off of one another. I truly believed these guys were all lifelong buddies and that’s no small feat. Particularly good here are Grimes and London who are by far the most screwed over by life yet are also the emotional anchors of the film. You care about them both and want to see them pull themselves out of the bell jar they’ve found themselves trapped in. Scott Michael Campbell is also hilarious as Laith, the one total idiot friend we all have who is as predictably dumb as they come. David DeLuise also steps it up as the kind of surrogate big brother of the group but doesn’t overdo it trying to keep up with the other three who have meatier roles.
While I sometimes felt as though the film was treading dangerously close to a hybrid of “Very Bad Things” and “Weekend at Bernies,” the terrific acting and clever plot twists make up for it.