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‘Buddy Games’: When obnoxious bros compete, we’re all the losers

Would-be comedy starts out terrible and goes downhill from there.

Some “Buddy Games” competitors — played by James Roday (from left), Josh Duhamel, Dan Bakkedahl, Kevin Dillon and Nick Swardson — guzzle in a drinking showdown.
Saban Films/Paramount Home Entertainment

The would-be comedy “Tag” was one of the worst movies of 2018, as an outstanding cast including Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, Lil Rel Howery, Isla Fisher and Rashida Jones was sunk by an obnoxiously off-putting story about a quintet of 40-something man-boys who played an ongoing game of tag for two decades. You wouldn’t want to spend five minutes with these insufferably juvenile jerks, let alone an entire movie.

Now comes the would-be comedy “Buddy Games.” The usually likable and reliable Josh Duhamel is the prime culprit, as he directed, co-wrote and stars in this horrific trainwreck about a bunch of howling, yammering, chest-thumping idiots who convene every year to compete in “Jackass”-level games that involve inflicting pain on one another, unpleasant bodily functions and of course the always hilarious testicle-based “humor.” These middle-aged, self-absorbed clowns are so repugnant and uninteresting and small-minded and awful, they make the gang from “Tag” look like the Knights of the Round Table.

But hey, if you want to see a movie where the story is set in motion by an incident where a paintball pierces a man’s scrotum, step right up.

Duhamel’s Bob, known by his pals as “The Bobfather,” is a successful businessman with a beautiful and loving girlfriend named Tiff (Olivia Munn). His longtime friends include the alpha male Shelly (Dan Bakkedahl), who is a multiple champion of the annual Buddy Games; the incompetent chiropractor Doc (Kevin Dillon); struggling actor Durf (Dax Shepard), and the shrill and repulsive Bender (Nick Swardson), who manages to be the most abhorrent individual of this rotten bunch. After a Buddy Games incident gone horribly wrong that leaves Shelly without testicles, the annual ritual is discontinued and we flash forward five years later, with Shelly in a nursing facility, moping about and giving up on life. Shelly’s mother believes the only way for Shelly to bounce back would be to have something to live for — namely, the ultimate Buddy Games weekend. Now we know why Shelly is such a dimwitted cretin; he got it from Mom!

A steak strapped to his head, Durf (Dax Shepard) awaits the hungry lizard.
Saban Films/Paramount Home Entertainment

After some horrifically tone-deaf interludes, e.g., Bender operating a vodka stand across the street from a lemonade stand run by two little girls, whom he robs and terrorizes before fleeing the scene, it’s on to the Buddy Games, and oh has Bob come up with some fantastic events. I mean, what could be funnier than having the guys down laxatives and try to pick up women at a singles bar before they lose control of their bowels? Or how about a corn dog eating contest, complete with a homophobic sight gag? And here’s a new one: The guys are placed in crates with only their heads exposed, and they have raw steaks strapped to their forehead, and out comes a large, hungry lizard creature with sharp teeth and a darting tongue. By the time we get to the gag (literally) involving sperm and a batch of Pina Coladas, all we can do is hope and pray it’ll soon be over.

At least “Buddy Games” is consistent, because even the finale, in which Bob makes an inexplicably dopey life decision, is just an excuse for another round of Three Stooges-level physical shtick.

This is a legit contender for worst movie of 2020.