I always thought it was funny that people got so mad at Adam Sandler for making films with his friends in an exotic locale with a beautiful woman cast as his wife, as if that isn’t the #1 log line for dream job. One person who wasn’t mad about it was Josh Duhamel, as evident in last years Buddy Games and this week’s follow up Buddy Games: Spring Awakening. Now, to be fair, I don’t know that Josh Duhamel, Kevin Dillon, Dan Bakkedahl, James Roday Rodriguez and long time Sandler collaborator Nick Swardson are all actual buddies, but it certainly would seem so from the chemistry on screen…these guys are having fun.
Buddy Games: Spring Awakening sees the gang come back together, this time for a less then joyous reason when core buddy group member, Durfy (Dax Shepard), passes away. Determined to let him rest forever in a place of importance the gang steal Durfy’s ashes from his brother (Jensen Ackles Supernatural) and Uncle (The always awesome to see Lochlyn Munro) and make a B-line to “Party Marty’s” the birthplace of the Buddy Games. Finding that the younger crowd has usurped their place as holder of the Buddy Games the group begin a mission to show the Spring Breakers who the real champs are all while hunting down Durfy’s lost love and ensuring their friend has a rockin’ place to rest for all eternity.
If this sounds like a throwback to films like Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise, or any one of 100 raunchy spring break movies from the 80’s (but older), you’re not wrong. Shakespeare this is not, but damn I didn’t realize how much I missed movies like this. The first Buddy Games was fine, a perfectly funny lazy Saturday afternoon flick but something about Buddy Games: Spring Awakening struck a cord of nostalgia that brought me back. Sure, that was partly the scattered homophobia and general anti-woke feeling but more so it hit the good parts of that time, the real joy of good friends and good times. Anyone that’s followed our site for any amount of time knows that I’m a Supernatural superfan and therefore a big fanboy for Jensen Ackles, the guy deserves all the fame he is now getting and can really do it all, so having him in pursuit for the road trip part of the film was a special bonus. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Johnny Drama himself, Kevin Dillon. I’ve only seen him few and far between since Entourage ended (which is probably a good thing, as he’s best in smaller doses) but I’ll be damned if the guy doesn’t keep me laughing whenever I see him on screen, ‘Just for Men’ dyed goatee and all.
I will say the film borders on sketch comedy at parts, with the actual Buddy Games taking a back seat but I didn’t really see a problem with that. We got a good feeling for the games in the first film and, to be honest, it only works as a framing device anyway. This is all to say that, if you’re looking for story and structure, keep looking because you won’t really find it here. That feels like it should be something I harp on further but I have a certain appreciation for films that know what they are and don’t try to check all of the boxes, focusing just on those that matter.
Buddy Games: Spring Awakening was a surprisingly good time, thanks in no small part to the chemistry of the cast and their willingness to go all in for the joke. I caught the film by myself, mid-afternoon on a Thursday and still laughed through a good 70% of what played in front of me. I can only imagine how much better it would be with a few friends during a late-night Saturday showing.