Tiresome rom-com Sleeping with Other People unbelievably screened at MIFF this year and now has a general release through Palace Cinemas.
The film proposes the bizarre notion that Jason Sudeikis could be some sort of romantic lead. He plays insouciant smart-ass Jake, a sex addict who, 13 years ago, lost his virginity to the slightly crazed and extremely flirty Lainey (Alison Brie). When they encounter one another again at a sex addicts meeting there’s still a spark of attraction between them but they’re determined to ensure that any sort of relationship remains platonic. What ensues is a familiar and predictable rom-com that relies on the tension of unrequited romance between its principals, a theme explored much more effectively in films such as Friends with Kids and writer/director Leslye Headland’s previous effort Bachelorette.
As an alleged comedy Sleeping with Other People rarely hits the mark. While it contains a couple of vaguely amusing lines, the dialogue mostly consists of genitalia references and unfunny, self-consciously clever and increasingly irritating quips delivered in Aaron Sorkin babble voices but without Sorkin’s cerebral insights.
This film could have been a dud if it wasn’t for Alison Brie who illuminates the screen with a mix of innocent charm and potent sexuality that makes Jake’s lingering obsession with Lainie completely understandable. Harder to fathom, though is her attraction to Jake as Sudeikis plays him the same way he plays every character, as a smarmy sleaze-ball. This routine from Sudeikis is tolerable in ‘raunch’ comedies like Horrible Bosses and We’re the Millers but in what is supposed to be a more thoughtful role he just comes across as a twerp. After watching him behave like a git for the most of the film, a last minute attempt to imbue him with a degree of sensitivity fails dismally.
Sleeping with Other People also features some poorly developed and at times irritating supporting characters. Adam Scott, wearing a creepy moustache, plays Lainie’s former boyfriend Matthew with whom, for reasons unknown to the rest of humanity, Lainie is still obsessed. Jason Mantzoukas who plays Xander, Jake’s business partner, is the obligatory quirky, politically incorrect-buddy and he delivers one of the most annoying performances in cinema this year as he shouts obnoxious drivel throughout the film.
As so many film-makers have done before, Headland attempts to infuse the film with the romance of New York City by placing characters in the city’s iconic public attractions such as Central Park. Unfortunately, the use of murky digital video undermines the visual appeal of these locations.
As a supposed romantic comedy Sleeping With Other People is rarely romantic or comical but because of Alison Brie’s sprightly performance it is at least tolerable.
Nick’s rating: **1/2.
Genre: Romantic comedy
Director(s): Leslye Headland.
Release date: 29th October 2015.
Running time: 101 mins.
Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM. Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show
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