There are a million ways to embarrass yourself at a party: you can blackout, you can throw up, you can lose in a game of dice, you can get skunked in a game of pong, you can pass out in the street or in a bathroom that hasn’t been cleaned in years. Not that any of these things are likely (unless you happen to be me), but there are always risks when it comes to drinking with the squad.
Andrew Gaynord’s “All My Friends Hate Me” is an incredibly funny look at social anxiety and a send-up to those risks, mixed with a shot of cringe and a dose of horror. It’s a long, drug-fueled weekend for Pete (Tom Stourton), an international aid worker who gets invited to celebrate his birthday at a country estate with his friends from university, where he had a reputation as a party animal—and a bit of a putz. Very quickly, Pete realizes he’s matured in a way they haven’t and grown apart from these people who have their own inside jokes and who have brought along a “New Guy” (Dustin Demri-Burns) to join in on the fun.
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Harry (Burns) is a bit like Lloyd from “Dumb & Dumber,” if everyone thought Lloyd was the coolest guy on the planet. Everyone laughs at his gags—which, if you listen to them, aren’t really gags—and everyone pushes Pete aside for his nonsense. Instead of arriving at a warm reception, Pete is virtually ignored, especially when he brings up his charity work in the Middle East that they find terribly tedious. The more time goes on, the more paranoid he gets: why is everyone ignoring him? Why is everyone talking behind his back? Why is everyone talking about his college pranks? Maybe he’s just nervous because of a social anxiety disorder, or perhaps everyone is actively conspiring to make him miserable? As drinks are poured, drugs are snorted, and embarrassment runs wild, the weekend becomes increasingly hilariously nightmarish.
The premise almost sounds like a broad, Hollywood bro-comedy, and there are moments of fraternal hilarity, such as an absurd sequence where the group attempts to shoot ducks after many, many cocktails. But “All My Friends Hate Me” is carefully and delicately wrought, the actors masterfully walking the line between drunken fun and waking nightmare. In a restrained performance, Stourton, who has the face of a former athlete, beautifully conveys Peter’s inner turmoil and his subsequent paranoia as he tries to find out if he’s been cast as a drunken court jester. Are they laughing with him? Or are they laughing at him? Though lowered inhibitions can lead to heightened paranoia, there are many moments that cross the line.
While Gaynord tosses in all the elements of …….