Sleeping with Other People
Director: Leslye Headland
Cast: Alison Brie, Amanda Peet, Natasha Lyonne, Adam Scott, Jason Sudeikis, Marc Blucas, Andrea Savage, Jason Mantzoukas, Katherine Waterson, Adam Brody
Release Date: 09/18/15
by Michael Clawson of Terminal Volume
Sleeping With Other People is a soul-crushing void of raunch, flimsy paper-thin comedy and dialogue written by a sixth grader who likes to snicker at the entries for “penis” and “vagina” in Webster’s Dictionary. It’s about people who are having lots of sex, although I left wondering if anyone involved with the movie had actually participated in the act or if they had just learned of the practice from cheap porno and a dial-up connection.
I will gladly sit through edgy, or vulgar, or filth as long as there is something that anchors everything into place. This is just random word association with sex flashcards, and delivered with dialogue so mundane that two mechanics discussing radiator repair would be downright erotic in comparison. It’s the kind of movie where the two stars are introduced by her complimenting his porn, and him complimenting her panties. Classy.
She is Lainey (Alison Brie) and he is Jake (Jason Sudeikis). They meet in college and lose their virginity to each other. Fast forward 12 years and they meet at a sex addiction support group, which is really where all the nymphomaniacs go to get ideas (Billy Eichner’s here doing a routine that would funny in any movie but this one). Lainey’s boyfriend has just broken up with her, and her side-guy, a dorky gynecologist, refuses to leave his wife. Jake drifts from one sexual encounter to another, a boat bobbing in the current. “Hey,” they figure, “let’s be benefit-free friends to keep each other company during our miserable descents into nowhere.” They even have a safe word, “mousetrap,” to signal when the sexual tension is overwhelming.
Yeesh, this movie just doesn’t stop blabbing. So much dialogue, it feels like it never stops. Not just dialogue either, but then narration, pop-up text messages, phone calls, all of it made up of grown adults internalizing their sexual failures until they eventually glitch out and have to reboot in safe mode. And all of it explicit in one way or another. At one point they talk about their favorite sex positions in front of a TV salesman, who smiles and nods like it’s the most normal thing in the universe. The film really lost me in an early scene, when Jake’s business partner turns to Lainey as asks, “Are you the one who made my friend a slut, or was it his father who molested him?” Yikes, it’s so bad it stings.
The wheels really come off when Sudeikis, who’s unable to hide complete and utter embarrassment at this point, takes an empty tea jar, jams his fingers inside and instructs his female costar where all the landmarks are in her most intimate place. And the detail he goes into is enough to make Larry Flynt gag. Poor Brie, she’s watching this poor jar and wishing a truck would crash through the set and drag her off the studio lot. She was on Mad Men, damn it, and this is so far beneath her it’s subterranean.
The logical path here is telegraphed in the opening scenes: of course these two wayward souls must fall in love, “mousetrap” or not. Getting to that point is so agonizing that even people who fetishize agony are searching, clawing, scraping for their safewords.