Flock Of Dudes is more of an overlong pilot for a television series than a proper feature. Still, the Chris D’Elia-led romantic comedy finds enough charm and laughs to make familiar territory feel fun once again.
D’Elia stars as Adam, a 30-year-old bro-dude who has partied himself into a corner. After losing his girlfriend and watching his younger brother get engaged, Adam decides he must finally cut ties with his childhood friends in order to become the grownup he has been avoiding his entire adult life. The friends are not happy to learn of Adam’s breakup plans, but a little self-reflection leads them to each wonder what life may be like if they tried living any other way than what has been working for them since college. Soon the group of once tight friends begins to discover new avenues to happiness that do not necessarily require the presence of their longtime pals.
Making sure the breakup remains in effect while the men figure out their lives is David (Sean Astin), Adam’s brother. David tries to ensure the members of the group will avoid contact with one another by having them sign contracts that come with stiff penalties for any instance when one or more members of the group speak to or are seen in the company of another member. The punishments range from the loss of a fantasy football season to cancelling David’s bachelor party in order for he and his bride to be to throw a ‘Jack and Jill party’ instead. This is tantamount to a felony crime in the minds of the friends, but resisting the urge to hang out with one another soon proves more difficult than expected.
Flock Of Dudes marks Chris D’Elia’s first leading role in the world of film, but I am still uncertain whether or not he has the charisma and presence needed to be a big screen comedy star. His performance in this film is not unlike that of another post-Y2K funnyman-turned-actor, Dane Cook, and the believability of his relationship with female lead Hannah Simone is similar to Cook’s onscreen romance with Jessica Simpson in the now long-forgotten 2006 misfire, Employee Of The Month. D’Elia could prove me wrong in the years ahead, but considering that his persona in this film is pretty much a carbon copy of every other character audiences have seen him play to date, that seems unlikely.
D’Elia’s shortcomings aside, Flock Of Dudes also suffers from a lack of original thinking. There is not a turn or twist in this movie that has not been found in other, often far more entertaining films. The only thing that separates this film from those that came before it is a handful of naughty one-liners about sex, drugs, and debauchery that could just as easily be squeezed into one of the other dozen or so R-rated comedies to be released this year. The film has nothing new to say about love or friendship, let alone any unique perspectives on the transition from adolescence to adulthood or the emotional interconnectivity of friends.
Directed by Bob Castrone—who also shares writing credit with Brian Levin and Jason Zumwalt—Flock Of Dudes is an ultimately deceptively tame comedy about wild guys learning to be fully-functional adults that audiences have seen numerous times before. Castrone recruits a number of popular comedy outliers to support D’Elia’s Adam, including Eric Andre and Brett Gelman, only to force each into a very predictable pattern of stupid bro behavior that lacks any resemblance to the comic sensibilities that make each cast member so great. The same can be said for smaller supporting players like Marc Maron, Big Bang Theory star Melissa Rauch, Ray Liotta and ‘Roast Master General’ Jeff Ross, who both make brief appearances in the film without contributing anything of note to the proceedings. It’s as if Castrone believes the recipe to great comedy involves bringing together proven funny people and asking them to do something that is the complete opposite of their comedic personas. The results of this approach are the cinematic equivalent to what might happen if you asked a top-tier sushi chef to make you a really great pizza, which is to say it’s perfectly fine, but you know everyone involved would do better with something more suited to their skills.