• by Wes Singleton

The Climb - B

Rated R, 98 minutes

The charming new low-budget comedy "The Climb" expertly traverses the joys and conflicts of best friends. If it seems relatable, it's because the film is co-written and produced by two real best friends and independent feature filmmakers Kyle Marvin and Michael Angelino Covino and taken directly from their friendship.

Kyle (Marvin) and Mike (Angelino Covino, who also directed) are best friends who share a close bond until Mike sleeps with Kyle's fiancée. A tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak and rage.

Based on a short film of the same name directed by the pair, the friendship dramedy "The Climb" is an uneven though often funny and unsentimental look at the ups and downs of a pair of two very different best friends. The two don't seem made for friendship, given the two are opposites: Mike's churlish qualities don't tend to mesh with Kyle's more appealing ones, especially with Kyle's fiancee's, particularly the tough, honest Marissa ("Perry Mason's" Gayle Rankin), who doesn't fit in with Kyle's family, but in the end, they may (or may not) realize they more in common than they think.

"The Climb" works better as a comedy than a drama as it never fully delves into why friendships work - often, they just do - and it certainly skims over some deeper aspects of the film, namely that both men have some huge, unresolved character flaws. The scenes with Kyle's family are a highlight, as is a climactic wedding where things don't exactly end well. Character actress Talia Balsam and George Wendt (yes, Norm from "Cheers"), have a few memorable scenes as Kyle's protective parents.

The first half is better than the second half, and "The Climb" occasionally feels awkward in execution (the occasional musical interludes are a nice but unnecessary touch) and could've benefited from stronger direction, but it's still a likable look at what an endurance friendship can be, but how ultimately rewarding it is.