Once upon a time, in a childhood land of lollipops and sleepovers, Chuck and Buck were the best of friends; their days marked out with "fun, fun, fun". The trouble is that Chuck grew up and Buck did not. When the pair are reunited at a family funeral, Chuck (now a thrusting music exec with a pert girlfriend and an apartment in the Hollywood hills) finds himself bothered and bewildered by the creepy lost boy he thought he'd left behind. "I like your house," mumbles Buck, sticking out like a sore thumb at an uptight yuppie party. "It's very old person-y."
Shot on a shoestring budget by Miguel Arteta, Chuck and Buck offers a uniquely rich and strange comedy of retarded childhood. Think of this as a Peter Pan for modern-day America, or the Tom Hanks film Big viewed through a glass darkly. The slender premise contains deep pockets of ambiguity. After all, who's the real victim here? The harassed Chuck (played by American Pie co-creator Chris Weitz) or the spurned, saucer-eyed Buck (Mike White, who also wrote the script)? And who is the hero: the successful, status-conscious professional or the dopey, tearful wild card? Throughout the tale, you find your sympathies swinging back and forth between them.
Make no mistake, Chuck and Buck is alive with hilarious, often horrific set-pieces. Yet Arteta's direction keeps it on a tight leash, prevents it from descending to the level of a simple freak-show. Instead his film blossoms from an odd-couple farce into a drolly provocative (and oddly humane) portrait of that shadow period between infancy and adolescence. White's character comes across as a very human kind of movie monster. Resplendent in stripy T-shirt, Buck is Chuck's conscience, his id, the ghost of childhood come back to haunt him. --Xan Brooks
An all too innocent man-child stalks his childhood best friend and tries to reconnect with their past.
Actors: Mike White, Chris Weitz, Lupe Ontiveros, Beth Colt, Paul Weitz
Director: Miguel Arteta