Thursday, September 24, 2015

A romcom that tries to be trendy

Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie star in Sleeping With Other People.

Predictability in romantic comedy isn't necessarily a bad thing. We've all experienced the pleasures that result from knowing that two characters are destined to be together -- even if they don't yet realize it.

But the success of such movies depends a lot on how we react to the characters who are working their way toward a shared destiny.

In the case of Sleeping With Other People, I was less-than-charmed by Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie, who are cast as a couple of sex addicts dedicated to protecting themselves from emotional involvement.

Reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally -- a signature contemporary rom-com -- Sleeping With Other People tries (strains?) not to get too starry-eyed about love.

Sudeikis' Jake sleeps with just about any woman who crosses his path. Larson's Lainey clings to her "love" for a gynecologist played by Adam Scott.

The sex in doc's office is great, but he's engaged to someone else.

When Jake and Lainey, who had a brief fling in college, become friends as adults, they listen to each other's sexual tales while insisting that their relationship remain platonic.

At one point, Jake becomes involved with his boss, a woman of preternatural understanding played by Amanda Peet.

Jason Mantzoukas and Andrea Savage turn up as the family folks in Jake's bachelor life.

Sudeikis and Brie aren't helped by glib dialogue that sounds so written, you can almost hear the clatter of typewriter keys.

When Harry Met Sally probably remains best known for its feigned orgasm scene. Perhaps by way of competition, Sleeping With Other People features a scene in which Jake offers Lainey advice about how she can more effectively masturbate.

He conducts a demonstration with a bottle that I won't describe in any detail, but know that, at minimum, it's indicative of a movie that feels as if it wants to be both shockingly frank and romantic.

As in life, those may not be complementary ambitions.

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