Shampoo the Wookie

Were Kevin Smith beginning his career in 2021, back in the micro-budget indie scene and shooting footage wherever he could, then Drunk Bus is likely something he’d produce. That’s short-selling Drunk Bus’ success – it’s a film with more honest heart than something like Clerks (if also more derivative of the contemporary indie scene). There’s an undeniable creative filmmaking signature though that deftly blends the crass with the truth.

Drunk Bus’ humor varies, at times voracious for the R-rated sex gags and gross outs, while other times, visually endearing or softly comic. Selling it isn’t easy because the surface is merely that of Michael (Charlie Tahan) driving a bus through a college town as his life falls apart. Most coming-of-age stories center on high school; Michael’s a late bloomer moving forward into higher education.

Drunk Bus finds endlessly charming, hilarious gags

But like Clerks’ carry out, Drunk Bus’ public transport means interacting with society’s most obnoxious. Stereotypical drunk 20-somethings, certainly, but the cranky elderly and the incontinent too. That brings this limited scale dramedy relevance, events beyond Michael’s relationship struggles. It’s about the people, not just a person, even as Michael’s own plight carries the scenery.

The capable Tahan’s performance aside, Michael isn’t inherently interesting. His quiet sorrow and irritation at life isn’t a revelation so much as an archetype. Drunk Bus instead details those who push and test him to be better, to break out and explore. Notably, that’s Pineapple (Pineapple Tangaroa), a delightfully imposing gentle giant working as security.

Through Pineapple, Drunk Bus finds endlessly charming, hilarious gags, but also a means for Michael to find himself while letting the audience question their own social sterility. Using the nightly, repetitive bus route is a sharply intelligent allegory for Michael’s rut, and smart to develop the side characters logically – the same passengers board at the same places at each stop.

Dealing with a greater emotional toll, the final act lets the comedy lapse, dragging the entertainment value southward for 10-15 minutes as Drunk Bus passes through cliché arguments, division, and self-doubt. Turns out though the script is saving things for a final flurry before the credits that leaves Drunk Bus on the same high note it started with. This isn’t a script shy about bodily functions, accidental perversion, or general mayhem. It celebrates them all, and Michael is lucky enough to be in the midst.


It’s an either/or case for Drunk Bus on Blu-ray. Either it’s the lower budget digital cinematography causing some visible artifacting or the encoding. Again, either/or. The results lead to messier imagery, often chunky, exposing the compression in every frame. Naturally the definition fades as a result, although texture still pokes out. Sharpness is reasonable enough, with decent resolution.

Dreary color suits the mood. Drunk Bus exists in a perpetually muted state, pale, mostly blue, and bland. Away from the bus, warmth slips in, but still faded and blah. At least nothing is intense enough to bring out more compression.

Color grading being what it is, black levels follow suit, faded blues and browns delivering something resembling shadows. Depth-laden this is not. Contrast dims, never bright or impressive. In that sense, the disc keep the intent intact.


A little motion away from the center on occasion moves this DTS-HD track wide as it will go. There’s a stereo and 5.1 option that effectively work identically, but the surround mix focuses better on the dialog. Low-end bounces some from the music, if only a touch. The decidedly indie design focuses only on replicating dialog and nothing grander.



Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Drunk Bus
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Delightfully crass with a comic heart, Drunk Bus is reminiscent of early Kevin Smith in telling a small time story around likable but miserable people.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 31 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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