Blue Finch Film Releasing presents Drunk Bus on Digital Download May 24th
Initially destined for an SXSW festival premiere in 2020, Drunk Bus is about to make its all too quiet debut on streaming services. Drunk Bus is an indie comedy that would have performed well at SXSW and undoubtedly found a voice through a theatrical release. But, like many indie films that missed the festival circuit, there is a risk that this gem may well disappear online when surrounded by more prominent players. So, let’s make it our mission to ensure that doesn’t happen. Because, trust me when I say, this college comedy/road movie holds something rare and unique.
With a title like Drunk Bus, you would be forgiven for expecting yet another bog-standard post-college comedy—one rooted in the inability of students to leave their university days behind and enter an adult world. But, after just ten minutes, Drunk Bus has managed to transcend any preconceived ideas you may have. The film’s opening scenes delicate, atmospheric and rooted in raw honesty. It’s here we meet Michael (Charlie Tahan), a young ex-student bus driver who spends every night travelling the campus circuit. His shift, picking up drunk students, waifs and strays and those simply in need of a warm space as the snow falls on campus: his bus, a travelling menagerie of souls, his life a routine of no escape.
Michael is caught in the limbo between college life and future ambition. A limbo only further complicated by the end of a long term relationship with the ultra-religious Amy just days after his graduation. His life caught in a time loop, where the bus offers his only real escape, as he attempts to redefine his future while continuing to long for the girl who broke his heart. However, following a rough night driving, where a drunk student attacks Michael, his boss hires some security. Enter, Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa), an intimidating, lively enigma of a man with a face and body covered in Maori tattoos and piercings.
Initially fearing the giant man in his presence, Micheal insists he does not need protection. However, Pineapple quickly proves his worth, as Michaels unruly passengers fall silent in his presence. And it’s not long before Michael and Pineapple strike up a unique friendship rooted in the complexities of life, love, honesty and belonging. Their journey together, a rebirth of hope, excitement and opportunity.
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. The journey we embark on rich in humour, discussion and the complexity of social belonging. Here, Molinaro’s polished and sharp screenplay wraps Michael’s journey in the joy, trepidation and fear of personal growth and change. While simultaneously exploring issues of culture, identity and perception through Pineapple. The result, a delightful mix of themes, ideas and discussions that never allow the audience to guess the trajectory of Michael’s story. But, it is when these attributes dovetail with Luke McCoubrey’s superb cinematography that Drunk Bus comes alive. Here, McCoubrey reflects Michael’s internal struggle through the long dark winter nights on campus. While equally ensuring the bus lives and breathes as a joyous yet often tense travelling ark of souls.
Of course, even the best screenplay, direction and cinematography hang on the cast at a film’s heart. And thankfully, Drunk Bus also excels here in both its lead performances and the plethora of fascinating side characters who add to the film’s wonder. Here, Charlie Tahan beautifully brings Michael to life, creating a real and relatable lead who instantly finds a place in your heart. At the same time, Pineapple Tangaroa’s engaging and passionate performance shines; his portrayal reflecting a universal truth, that the person we see is only a fraction of what lies beneath the surface. And when coupled with a delightful ensemble cast, Drunk Bus jumps from the screen and into your heart. Its final messages of hope, belonging and acceptance a breath of fresh air as the endless night becomes day, and the winter in Michael’s heart turns to spring.