As NBC’s “Grimm” heads towards its sixth and possible final season, it’s time to face facts. There may come a time when Portland is no longer graced by the regular presence of David Giuntoli, the actor who plays protagonist Detective Nick Burkhardt on the supernatural cop show. Giuntoli has made the city his adoptive home, and has declared himself an unabashed fan of the place many times over.
It comes as no surprise, then, that “Buddymoon,” the low-budget, passion-project independent movie he made with his two old roommates from Los Angeles would be shot in Oregon. (Of course, shooting the film during breaks from production on “Grimm” made that a practical as well as emotional choice.)
When David’s fiancé breaks up with him just before their wedding, he’s despondent. But his best bud Flula (Giuntoli’s real life pal, YouTube star Flula Borg) convinces him not to cancel his planned honeymoon hiking trip through the Columbia Gorge, and the two of them embark on a “Buddymoon.” That’s the cue for a series of outdoor antics in which the free-wheeling, German-accented Flula plays off David’s mopey straight man.
Their encounters include an eccentric conspiracy theorist, a female camper (fellow “Grimm” cast member Claire Coffee) who takes a shine to David, and a folk singer played by Hutch Harris of The Thermals. Along the way, David tries to come to terms with his romantic difficulties as well as his professional ones—he’s a former child star struggling to make it as an actor. Voice-over excerpts from the journals of William Clark, who tromped over the same ground with his pal Merriweather Lewis, add to the local color.
The rapport between the two leads is the sort that can’t be faked, and isn’t. Giuntoli and Borg, along with “Buddymoon” director Alex Simmons, were housemates years ago in Los Angeles. Simmons went on to a successful documentary filmmaking career, Borg had a hilarious supporting role in “Pitch Perfect 2,” and Giuntoli’s been busy fighting Wesen for the last few years. But, as they discussed when I interviewed them for “The Oregonian” following the movie’s world premiere in January (when it was still titled “Honey Buddies”), they had always dreamed of working together.
This could have led to one of those movies that was clearly more fun to make than to watch, but that’s not the case. “Buddymoon” is slight but goofily endearing, and a notably heartfelt depiction of male friendship that avoids the clichés of a typical ‘bromance.’
(“Buddymoon” opens on Friday, July 1, at the Living Room Theaters. Giuntoli and Borg will hold a meet-and-greet event at Portland’s Danner store on Saturday, July 2, at 4 pm; they’ll be joined by Simmons for a Q&A following the 6:50 pm show that evening.) GRADE: B+