Drunk Bus centres around recent graduate Michael (Charlie Tahan), who (after being dumped by his girlfriend who refused to give him her virginity and moved to New York), continues to carry out the late shift of driving the bus around his college campus. When he is punched one night by a frat boy, the college hires Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa), a tattooed, pierced Samoan bodyguard, who brings a wake up call. Joined on the protagonist’s monotonous journeys are his best friend Justin (Tonatiuh) and potential love interest Kat (Kara Hayward), as well as local called “Fuck You Bob” and various drunk girls, frat boys and an unsettling amount of bodily fluids.
There is a surprising variety of characters here, from the classic down-on-his-luck, angry protagonist to a closeted gay nurse to an old artist whose only vocabulary is “fuck you”. However, the film makes no attempt to unearth any humanity in its characters, offering only a superficial idea of what each is meant to represent without exploring them on any other level. An indie production such as this might well rely heavily on smart, witty dialogue and empathetic characters – without them the result is uninspiring, derivative and meaningless.
Drunk Bus seems like a a hybrid of Charlie Kauffman’s work and Scott Pilgrim vs.The World: though both are well respected, this film lacks all of the inspiration, heart and humour of the material it so obviously tries to emulate. Michael spends the hour-and-40-minute runtime moping, complaining and indulging in self-pity, sporadically leaning into anger when he finds out his religious ex-girlfriend slept with another guy. It’s painfully misogynistic, especially when a girl helpfully offers to clean his wound after a fight and Pineapple immediately presumes that the two will have sex. What follows is a needless and unsettling sex scene, involving night terrors, that is supposed to be comedic but is instead wildly uncomfortable.
Directors John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke make a decent effort of breathing some life into a pitiful script by Chris Molinaro, giving the bleak, cold campus some character with graffiti, dorm rooms covered with posters and structured camera shots that bring the subject right into focus. However, the subject of Drunk Bus is poorly written and incites no emotion or empathy, making any directorial efforts futile.
Drunk Bus is released digitally on demand on 24th May 2021.
Watch the trailer for Drunk Bus here: