Intended to amuse younger viewers and send older ones to Urban Dictionary, Douchebag’s title is, unfortunately, its most noteworthy aspect. Clocking in at an official 81 minutes that, in reality, proves to be barely 70, director Drake Doremus’s debut is an indie in a standard mumblecore-style mold, its shaky handheld DV camera trained on two everyman twentysomething brothers and their unexceptional road trip of personal discovery.
Sam (Andrew Dickler) has a gigantic brown beard, a balding head, and a passion for vegetarianism, meaning he’s a prototypical hipster archetype. On the verge of marrying devoted girlfriend Steph (Marguerite Moreau), Sam is forced by his bride-to-be to reunite with estranged brother Tom (Ben York Jones), who—because of a mysterious past conflict—hates Sam as much as Sam hates him. Despite this shared animosity, Sam enthusiastically forces Tom on a cross-California journey to reunite with his fifth-grade girlfriend, an odyssey that, after a few dreamy slow-motion montages set to romantically trippy electronica, soon becomes more about Sam’s than Tom’s needs.
Doremus’s protagonists share a naturalistic rapport, and his actors, despite embodying roles almost wholly defined by external appearances, suitably underplay their parts. Nonetheless, as Tom goes roller-skating with a rink employee, Sam hits on a customer at a coffee shop, and the siblings pound 40-ounce beers in their hotel room after spending time in a steam bath (all while Sam, ultimately revealed to be the titular d-bag, learns to take a good hard look at himself and change his arrogant ways), Douchebag winds up too thin and underdeveloped to make much of a dramatic mark, and yet not funny enough to play as straight comedy. Instead, it exists in a trifling middle ground that’s not unpleasant so much as merely unremarkable, its low-fi aesthetics melding with its rather inconsequential plot to provide little more than a brief slacker odyssey that quickly evaporates from the mind.