It may seem ungenerous, unnecessary, or even unfair to propose that “A Buddy Story,” a little indie flick starring a likely pre-“Mad Men” Elisabeth Moss, works better as a parody of little indie flicks than an actual example of such entertainment — after all, little and indie is what it is. But play the trailer and decide for yourself: Would you rather watch this movie in what is almost certainly vain hope of some pleasant (or even unpleasant) surprises, or watch it as a potentially seamless, tickling embodiment of the wistful-winsome modestness of intelligence-depletingly derivative independent cinema? Note the following markers, so blandly familiar as to be invisible:
1. The cutely punning title — “Buddy” being the leading boy in this “buddy” movie.
2. Buddy is a mildly disheveled, acoustic guitar-strumming “solo” indie musician — the implied creator of the movie’s (wistful-winsome) score, and in the grand design, the embodied musical equivalent of this movie.
3. Susan (Moss) — whose mania for ice cream results in Buddy having to inform her that she has in fact gotten ice cream on the tip of her nose — is Annie Hall processed through a thousand student-film scripts and three decades into some kind of weird-girl gruel.
4. Buddy and Susan travel on his tour inside of the sort of charming old vehicle of the type one inherits from their white parents or sees in a Wes Anderson movie (although it is not a Volvo or compact BMW).
5. There is the scene in which one person strips off their clothes in an impromptu fashion so that they may dive into a body of water they have just happened across, as a challenge-slash-invitation to their companion to join them in doing so. (The foregone twist here is that Susan cannot swim; Buddy must meet the challenge in order to save her from drowning.)
6. Matisyahu cameo.
7. The disquieting, complicating fact that Susan is a victim of domestic abuse — a plot point mentioned in the movie’s description — is entirely scrubbed from the trailer, and presumably conveniently disposed of in the movie.
8. “You helped ME,” Susan tells Buddy, who incorrectly believes that he acts purely out of self-interest.
“A Buddy Movie” opens on May 15.