More Stalk than Action
Chuck and Buck
Review by Ross Anthony

Excellent Dialogue, editing and a superb performance by writer/lead actor Mike White. But the story is only decent, the telling is quite slow and linear, subject matter potentially off-putting and the quality of the image on the big screen - sorely lacking.

Essentially this is the story of a grown up boy who is still in love with his childhood playmate (by now a grown up man). It's been years since they've seen each other, but the passing of Chuck's mom brings them together. Very nicely directed, the funeral scene captures the delicate interplay of contradictory emotions. Buck is more excited to see his old pal than he is dismayed at his mother's passing. Chuck, on the other hand, trying to act appropriately for the occasion, isn't sure how to react to Chuck's jubilant smile.

Throughout the film, Buck remains resiliently pre-teen. He's bright-eyed, hopeful, playful, and broodingly obsessive. His every word is that of an 11-year-old. His every eyebrow raise and smile curl is that of a game loving pubescent. He's remarkable, absolutely rock solid.

And if this film was just about one man's undying grip on childhood memories and his attempts to once again bring them into reality with his reluctant old buddy - then I'd have been more interested, really. But when that grip becomes a grope, it's all too apparent that Buck's interests aren't entirely innocent.

Most of the film is Buck stalking Chuck. There are no independent side stories and we, as an audience, spend most of our time across the street from Chuck's house or workplace, pseudo-sympathizing with the stunted maturity of Buck.

Then there's the technical: This movie is shot on videotape then transferred to film. The casual viewer will most likely notice that it's not as crisp or clean or rich as film, or that it's often grainy especially in low light. But I found the stair-step edges and color bleeding plainly distracting. Tape is much cheaper than film, however this production is so professionally handled from story to acting, I'm left wondering why they just didn't shoot it on film.

Some pictures actually work on videotape, "The Celebration" (a European flick) shot on tape makes sense since it revolves around a family event, we'd expect it to be captured on tape. In fact, video brings a hyperrealism to it. But "Chuck and Buck" displayed no artistic reason for the choice.

  • Chuck and Buck. Copyright © 2000.
  • Starring Mike White, Chris Weitz, Lupe Ontiveros, Beth Colt, Paul Weitz, Maya Rudolph, Mary Wigmore, Paul Sand, Gino Buccola.
  • Directed by Miguel Arteta.
  • Written by Mike White.
  • Produced by Matthew Greenfield at Blow up/Artisan release.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:16:43 PDT