Monday, October 5, 2015

Sleeping With Other People (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Sleeping With Other People

Playwright Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) directs "Sleeping With Other People," an unusual comedy about sex addiction starring   SNL's Jason Sudeikis and Community's Alison Brie.

Sudekis is Jake, who seems oddly older than the college man he plays, as he is in a dorm at Columbia. Jake is still a virgin. Quirky Lainey (Brie) crashes the university campus and the two have a one night stand. Somehow, though it isn't explicitly explained, the pair develop a kind of sex addiction.

Jake becomes a compulsive serial dater, while Lainey develops a mind boggling attachment to Matthew (Adam Scott) a creepy gynecologist. For some 15+ years they go separate ways, only to see each other by chance at a twelve step program.

Sudekis, in his best role gives a fully realized, albeit bizzare perfomance for a "comedy" as a somewhat passive person, completely dominated by sexual thoughts. He works at an office and is able to compartmentalize, but the libertine imp of lust constantly nips at his heels.

Stranger still, is Lainey's attraction to Matthew, an unnattractive character who is clingy, selfish and narcissistic. Her pull to this doctor defies logic, let alone convention.

Lainey and Jake spend more and more time together. Jake is often lethargic while Lainey is nervous and chatty. Their chemisty is often distant but they meet within the common ground of sexual talk, developing an alien repartee.

This conversation, filled as it is with non-sequiturs and off the wall observations about sex, orgasms and lust makes some of the best material in the film. There is one strong scene in particular about an Exstasy dance at a kid's birthday party that is very funny, despite its feel of a Judd Apatow vignette.

The story slips however in its formulaic progression. Here we have the same familiar plot of two unusual people who fall apart and meet up again, only to agree to move on and  find each other once more. It is a kind of "Harry Met Sally" for the Amy Shumer set where licentious quips about male and female genitalia and orgasms are tossed about like raunchy bon bons.

The dialogue proves more arresting and subversive than any sequence of unfortunate events. When Jake stands up and beats Matthew to a pulp, for instance, it seems derivative and out of character, recalling a score of romantic comedies.

It would have been a much better comedic show if the film had stayed the course with a character study (given its innocently uncouth and off-putting dialogue) rather than its trappings of chivalry and revenge.

Although "Sleeping With Other People" makes a routine affair, a compelling verbal tryst is indeed witnessed in the alliance of Jake and Lainey. Theirs is a conversational rapport which feels eerily abstract and lacking in intimacy despite its crude sensuality.

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