Written by: Adam Vaughn | May 20th, 2021
Drunk Bus (John Carlucci/Brandon LaGanke, 2020) 3 out of 4 stars.
Too often comedies are set up with a decent premise, slapstick gags and a totally predictable story start to finish. After seeing John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke’s Drunk Bus, I’m compelled to say that, as a whole, the film follows the same rhythmic formula of common mainstream comedies. But thrown in with the clichéd sex jokes, drug and alcohol references, as well as profanity, Drunk Bus aims to tell a very relatable self-discovery story of a man looking to break free from the monotony of life.
Drunk Bus tells the story of Michael (Charlie Tahan, Wyatt Langmore on Netflix’s Ozark), a college-campus bus driver who puts up with repeated abuse and ridicule from drunk kids night after night. After suffering a physical assault, Michael is assigned a burly, aggressive bodyguard named Pineapple (played by Pineapple Tangaroa), and the two form an unlikely bond. As they journey into the night, they learn from each other about the value of living life to the fullest and breaking out of the continuous loop of daily routine.
The lessons in Drunk Bus come via small anecdotes and one-liners, rather than big-picture themes and ideas. There are various moments where the script has the potential to fully tackle the ideas of valuing relationships and self-confidence, yet doesn’t. Instead, Drunk Bus chooses only to poke at the topics, never deviating too far from its genre clichés nor taking even nuanced risks. While Carlucci and LaGanke may not hit impressive notes with their film, they do create a satisfying and relatable experience, with characters that you truly root for, throughout, and moments that are both entertaining and emotionally driven.
More so than the average comedy, Drunk Bus fully connects Michael and Pineapple as a dynamic duo, with plenty of usable backstory and personality clashes between the two. Most of the film’s concept rides on the two characters doing impromptu actions, and therefore the majority of the scenes involve impromptu moments of college-kid debauchery, possibly unscripted actions at times. Any viewer ranging from a recent college graduate (or current college student) to any older audience who remembers their carefree college days will appreciate the film’s shenanigans as nostalgic and relatable. And while Drunk Bus may never truly strive for the deeper meaning in itself, it does put in the effort to entertain and captivate the audience in all the right ways.