It’s hard for new parents not to find themselves regarding childless twentysomethings with a mix of envy and contempt. Compared with the unavoidable reality that is parenthood, their freedom seems staggering, impossible, ridiculous. All those late nights, those hangovers and brunches, those endless empty weekends: Did we, did I, really live that way? Why didn’t we appreciate it more? And then, as amazement curdles into resentment: Why don’t those shiftless layabouts get their acts together and have some kids?
It’s a testament to the skill behind Drinking Buddies, a portrait of two Chicago couples connected through the microbrewery where one member of each couple works, that its depiction of twentysomething freedom and confusion inspired neither of the emotions I’ve just described. Instead of envy, I felt empathy, and pity instead of contempt. The movie isn’t a tragedy by any stretch: just a richly observed slice of life. But the particular slice that it observes, the lager-lubricated culture of post-college dating and mating, is one that I was left feeling very glad to have permanently escaped.