The Climb is one of the most unique buddy pictures of recent memory. Many of us have a friend who’s more trouble than he or she is worth. Nevertheless, we continually forgive them for their shortcomings, even when we probably shouldn’t. A lot of romantic comedies have explored these sorts of relationships, but few buddy comedies have taken this approach. The characters here always come off as genuine, which only contributes to the comedy. Despite dealing with serious subjects such as infidelity, betrayal, and death, you might be surprised by just how funny The Climb is.
The opening scene perfectly sets the tone as best friends Mike (Michael Angelo Covino) and Kyle (Kyle Marvin) go for a bike ride. Mike chooses this time to break some bad news to his buddy: he slept with Kyle’s fiancé and it’s not over. Thus ensues a bicycle chase full of anger, confusion, and heartbreak, yet still oddly casual. One of them ends up in the hospital, although not in the way that you might assume. In most movies, this would be the emotional climax. Here, it’s only the first several minutes, leaving us to wonder where this story can go. Whatever direction these characters take, it’ll be an uphill climb.
Fast-forward a few years, Kyle is engaged to his girlfriend from high school Marissa (Gayle Rankin). Kyle seems to finally be in a good place, but another marriage is jeopardized when Mike shows up for Christmas. Mike has hit a new low and he seems poised to drag Kyle down with him. While Kyle is ready to welcome Mike back into his life, Marissa can’t wait to get rid of him. This all sounds like the setup to a sitcom, but The Climb doesn’t take the route that you might expect.
Part of what makes The Climb so refreshing is that Marissa isn’t just the shrewd, nagging girlfriend stereotype. Granted, she’s not the nicest person, but the character has more layers than meets the eye. You understand why Kyle is with her, although the real love story is between him and Mike. All things considered, Kyle would probably be better off if Mike cycled out of his life for good. It’s clear why these two are inseparable, however, and, despite their many issues, you want to see their bromance work out in the end.
In addition to starring, Covino directed the picture and co-wrote the screenplay with Marvin, basing it on their short film. Covino and Marvin are best friends in real life, giving their onscreen chemistry an authenticity that can’t be matched. If the film had a bigger budget, chances are it’d star Seth Rogen and James Franco. The fact that Covino and Marvin are unknowns, though, makes their dynamic feel all the more believable. These are the kinds of everyday people you could imagine seeing pedaling down the road, telling the driver behind them to get out of the way. The two have made a debut feature that’s hilarious, honest, and even heartfelt at times, getting to the root of what friendship is.