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New Release Review - SLEEPING WITH OTHER PEOPLE

Two friends struggle to maintain a platonic relationship.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Leslye Headland

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Brody, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, Natasha Lyonne, Katherine Waterston


Like TrainwreckSleeping With Other People is a comedy that fools you into thinking you're in for a modern, enlightened look at sexual mores only to ultimately pander to the most conservative of views on the topic.




Some would have you believe that good looking people can't be funny, yet there are plenty of examples in the history of cinema of beautiful people delivering great comedic performances; Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn immediately spring to mind. However, the fact is that good looking comics have to try harder to be funny. Much of comedy is about vulnerability; that's why we laugh more with the schmucks than the studs. We like to identify and empathise with a protagonist's problems, so when those 'problems' are as superficial as 'which devastatingly gorgeous girl/guy should I choose?', we tend to tune out. That's the case with Sleeping With Other People, which is basically When Harry Met Sally, if Harry were played by a quarterback and Sally a lingerie model.
Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie) first meet in college where they're both implausibly still virgins. After deflowering each other on the roof of Jake's dorm room, which boasts an improbably great view of the Manhattan skyline, they go their separate ways before bumping into each other 12 years later at a sex addiction meeting. Hollywood seems obsessed lately with the idea of sex addiction but views it in a hypocritical, puritanical way, wagging a disapproving finger while using sex to sell product. Neither Jake nor Lainey are sex addicts by any doctor's diagnosis - they're just two young people who enjoy sex and are blessed with enough good looks to make that part of life a little easier than the rest of us.
Jake and Lainey decide to go on a date, but after confessing their mutual lust, they settle on remaining platonic friends. The rest of the movie features a bizarre game of cat and mouse in which the pair gets each other hot under the collar - Lainey takes Jake lingerie shopping, Jake demonstrates his clitoral stimulation technique - while denying themselves any carnal pleasure. Thanks to a script that's as weak as communion wine, none of this is particularly amusing; rather it's bloody irritating. "Oh will you just hump for God's sake!", you'll find yourself screaming at the screen as Jake and Lainey come up with yet another ridiculous excuse not to bump their not-so-uglies.
At times, the film is highly explicit, and downright filthy, but there's something queasy about seeing all-American types like Brie and Sudeikis engaging in this sort of behaviour, especially when the film keeps reminding you that sex is a terrible thing if it's not occurring between two married people. Like Trainwreck, Sleeping With Other People is a comedy that fools you into thinking you're in for a modern, enlightened look at sexual mores only to ultimately pander to the most conservative of views on the topic. The film's final scene belongs in a rom-com from 1936, and plays like it was shoehorned in at the request of the local bishop. Sleeping With Other People? Try watching other comedies!
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