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Sleeping With Other People (A Movie Review)

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Sleeping With Other People

Sleeping With Other People


Starring Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis, Amanda Peet, Adam Scott, Adam Brody, Katherine Waterston, Jason Mantzoukas, Andrea Savage, Jordan Carlos, Margarita Levieva, Remy Nozik and Natasha Lyonne.

Screenplay by Leslye Headland.

Directed by Leslye Headland.

Distributed by IFC Films.  95 minutes.  Rated R.

Romantic comedies have been going through a bit of a dry streak for the last… oh, decade or so… so you always want for one to hit that sweet spot.  Sleeping With Other People has a smart, hip and likable cast, including an adorable couple of leads – Jason Sudeikis of Saturday Night Live and Alison Brie of Community – as well as some spectacular Manhattan settings.  It has smart people with cool jobs talking about substantive things (well, at least sometimes).  Sleeping With Other People even goes back to one of the all-time greats for inspiration – it’s When Harry Met Sally with text messaging – though sadly, it is not even close to as good as that classic.

You know the basic storyline even as it is playing out.  Jake (Sudeikis) and Lainey (Brie) meet cute in a college flashback (though both Brie and particularly Sudeikis look way too old to be in college), losing their virginity to each other and then promptly losing touch.

Thirteen years later, both are living in Manhattan and run into each other at a sex addicts support group.  However, neither is really a sex addict, they are just serially afraid of commitments.  Jake has been bedding a series of women through the years, sabotaging their relationships when things become too serious.  Lainey has been involved in a long-standing adulterous relationship with an old college crush (his standing her up back in the flashback led to Jake and Lainey’s one night of ecstasy) who is engaged to marry another woman.

Both recognize that they are on bad courses in life and need some serious changes. Therefore they decide that because their sexual relationships always end up hurting them and others, they will try to be just friends.  But can men and women really have a relationship without sex and love getting in the way?

Sleeping With Other People even steals one of When Harry Met Sally‘s lines on the subject – “Men and women can’t be just friends” – though it is a woman who says the line this time around.  I guess that’s sort of progress.

Of course everyone in each of their lives recognizes that they are actually the perfect couple, but they refuse to pull the trigger, fearing that sex will just complicate things and eventually wreck their relationship.  So they tell each other about their dates, have a safe word for when the other is doing something to make them sexually aroused, and go to friends’ kids parties when high.

Sudeikis and particularly Brie are extremely likable presences, and do inspire the audience to root for Jake and Lainey to end up together, even when they are being idiots.

In fairness to writer/director Leslye Headland (Bridesmaids), she appears to be sincerely trying to play with romantic comedy clichés, taking post-modern winks at the formula.  Unfortunately, despite this slight distance, she still ends up falling into many of those very same storytelling clichés.  Doing it with ironic detachment does not change the fact that is has been done.

However, for all its occasional silliness and over-reliance on formula, this is a rather likable film.

Sleeping With Other People is far from a great movie, but it’s actually surprisingly a decent bit better than most rom-coms that come down the pike.  I’m not sure whether that is a statement about the quality of Sleeping With Other People or if it is a statement about the quality of other romantic comedies, but I’ll take it.  If you’re looking for a pretty good rom-com, you could do a hell of a lot worse than Sleeping With Other People.

Dave Strohler

Copyright ©2015 All rights reserved. Posted: December 27, 2015.

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