Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Drunk Bus on Digital Download on May 24th.
Initially destined for an SXSW premiere in 2020, Drunk Bus is about to make a quiet debut on streaming services due to the COVID pandemic. Unfortunately, like so many films from 2020, it risks being forgotten as it drops online, and trust me, this is one indie comedy that deserves far more attention. With a title like Drunk Bus, you may expect another bog-standard post-college comedy rooted in classic coming-of-age themes. But, after just ten minutes, Drunk Bus offers us something delightfully different in construct.
Michael (Charlie Tahan) is a young ex-university student bus driver who drives the campus circuit every night, picking up drunk students, waifs and strays and those simply needing a warm space as the snow falls on campus. Michael is caught in the limbo between college life and his future ambitions. But this is only further complicated by the end of a long-term relationship with the ultra-religious Amy, just days after graduation. Here Michael’s life is trapped in a time loop, where every day offers the same routine.
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Following a rough night driving, Michael’s boss hires some security for the night bus. Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa) is an intimidating, lively enigma of a man whose face and body are covered in Maori tattoos and piercings. Initially fearing the giant in his presence, Micheal insists he doesn’t need protection. Still, Pineapple quickly proves his worth as Michael’s unruly passengers fall silent in his presence, and it’s not long before Michael and Pineapple strike up a unique friendship of rebirth, hope, excitement and opportunity.
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Written by Chris Molinaro and directed by John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke, Drunk Bus never succumbs to the lazy college comedy tropes of many of its contemporaries. Here the journey we take is rich in humour, discussion and complexity. Throughout the film’s runtime, Molinaro’s polished and sharp screenplay explores Michael’s journey through joy, trepidation, fear, and change while simultaneously exploring issues of culture, identity, and perception through Pineapple. The result is a delightful mix of themes, ideas and discussions that never allow the audience to guess the final trajectory of the story.
Of course, even the best screenplay, direction and cinematography hang on the performances at the heart of any film. Thankfully, Charlie Tahan and Pineapple Tangaroa are genuinely outstanding as two young men thrown together by fate. Here the final message of Drunk Bus is full of hope, belonging, and acceptance as the endless night becomes day, and the winter in Michael’s heart turns to spring.