‘Horseplay’ Review: Boys Will Be Boys

Boys will be boys, as the saying goes. In “Horseplay,” the sleek, expansive villa that a group of young, straight-identifying men relax in for the holidays starts to close in as their games of machismo — dumping water on a sleeping guest, for instance — push one another to the breaking point.

There’s not a lot of forward momentum in “Horseplay,” directed by Marco Berger and set outside a city in Argentina. Instead, the film plays like a perverse riff on a hangout movie, the “no homo” antics of a film like Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” taken to extremes, both in its laid back pace but also in the consequences of its characters fooling around.

They take naked photos together, send them around, slap each other’s butts. The audience sees something roil in one member of the group, Poli (Franco de la Puente), as he gazes at some of the young men faking fellatio and playacting penetration. But everyone else is content to lounge in the cognitive dissonance of the blurry boundaries of their homosocial intimacy rituals.

If only it weren’t all a bit inert. Without a piercing point of view to cut to the core of this male bonding, everything unspools slowly and without propulsion. “Horseplay” is less an acutely mapped-out anthropological study into toxic masculinity and pervasive homophobia and misogyny, and more like having to spend a day chilling with the most annoying guys you know.

Horseplay
Not rated. In Spanish, with subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes. Rent or buy on most major platforms.

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