Sleeping with Other People: Film Review
Cast: Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis, Amanda Peet, Natasha Lyonne, Adam Scott
Director: Leslye Headland
Billed as a rom-com for the Tindr generation, Sleeping with Other People is actually a sweet-natured film with a bit of filth and funny thrown in for good measure.
It centres on Lainey (Community star Alison Brie) and Jake (Horrible Bosses' Jason Sudeikis), who lost their virginity to each other in college. Years later, the pair bump into each other at a sex addicts' meeting; Lainey's continual cheating with her college sweetheart Matthew Sobvechik (Parks and Rec star Adam Scott) has sabotaged her latest relationship; and Jake's sleeping with his current girlfriend's sister has done the same.
Pledging to become platonic friends, the pair re-connect and find other romantic entanglements - but is their decision a la When Harry Met Sally likely to be their undoing?
Sleeping With Other People has moments of fresh-faced comedy, mixed in with the usual base kind of humour you'd expect from Sudeikis' typical schtick. And yet, thanks to Sudeikis' being dialled back and underplaying of it all, both he and Brie make an eminently watchable couple - even if it's clear from about a third of the way through where this is going.
Brie's Lainey is particularly interesting as Brie subtly plays her as someone continually on the edge of a breakdown because of her addiction to her ex; clearly, that relationship is not good for her, but there will be many for whom the reality hits quite close to the mark, particularly in a world where connection is becoming increasingly distant and more socially led. (Plus when she teaches 7 year olds to dance while on ecstasy, she gives good shock tactics)
Sudeikis is really a toned-down shade of everything we've seen before of him; his instructional on how to masturbate to Lainey is an example though of how the crassness of the film is swathed in a sweetness that's more likely to resonate than alienate.
Ultimately, the drive to bring them together is obvious from the beginning and so much so that Headland fails to really utilise the other relationships to create any kind of friction or inherent tension. Both Lainey and Jake end up seeing perfectly decent people (Lainey's love interest is good dad Marc Blucas and Jake actively pursues boss with kid played by Amanda Peet) but those characters dwindle away in the face of the fact this duo should be together. It's a mistake from Headland and certainly a waste of those talents - even if you argue that nice people are collateral, they still need a dramatic oomph to repay the investment.
However, while Sleeping With Other People's leads are perfectly fine, the film belongs to Jake's friend and married couple, played by Andrea Savage and Jason Mantzoukas. Their bickering and admiration for each other sees them worthy of more screen time (something the post film credits wisely uses) as they capture the essence of longevity in a relationship and the pros and cons of being with one person.
The gentle Sleeping With Other People has highs and lows, but the peaks outweigh the troughs easily - thanks to some reasonable chemistry, a script that zings and a cliche that's pleasantly played out, it hits where it should and will resonate with its target audience.