Romantic Comedy is an art. You can’t just throw two pretty people together, have them banter humorously, keep them apart until the end and then roll credits as they kiss under a full moon on a bridge somewhere. The romantic couple needs to be people we identify with and live in the same world that we do or at least a world we can understand and relate to. We have to see ourselves in them. We have to believe that we could find love in the same crazy way that they do.
Sleeping With Other People written and directed by Leslye Headland gives us two flawed people who could be you and me. The romantic comedy outline is followed but it is filled with original moments and frank and explicit dialogue that depicts what two friends of the opposite sex actually do talk about.
And it’s very funny.
Alison Brie and Jason Sudekis play Lainey and Jake. They meet in college and have a memorable one night stand. They run into each other 12 years later at a sexaholics anonymous meeting and find that they’re both just as screwed up as the other. He’s a good natured womanizer and she’s a serial cheater. They’re attracted to each other but instead of jumping into bed they decide to try to break from what they would normally do in an attempt to avoid their bad habits. They become friends instead.
But as we know from When Harry Met Sally (the romantic comedy Holy Grail), men and women can’t be friends because the sex part gets in the way. So per the rules, the movie must keep them apart until the end when they realize what they’ve been looking for has been in front of them the whole time.
Alison Brie is a real revelation in this film. She’s an accomplished comedian as seen on Community and a fine dramatic actress in Mad Men. Here she gets to show it ALL off as Lainey. Lainey is hopelessly drawn to an old flame who is now an OB-GYN and engaged, creepily played by Adam Scott. Their scenes together really show how damaged Lainey is and how much she hates herself for allowing this relationship ruin any other relationship she tries to have. She’s heartbreaking in these scenes and then is hysterically funny in others such as the scene in which Jake and Lainey show up at child’s birthday party, high on molly and Lainey leads the kids in a dance party that turns incredibly sexy and euphoric.
Jason Sudekis we already know is funny and charming but here he gets to go a little deeper and show a softer side. Jake wants to bed every woman he meets including his new boss played by Amanda Peet. He seems to be on autopilot except with Lainey. He wants to have sex with her but because he actually starts to have feelings for her he doesn’t want her to be just another conquest. He has great chemistry with Brie and the scene where he teaches her the best way to masturbate, using a tea jar, is incredible. You will be talking about the “Dirty DJ” for a long time afterwards.
Jason Mantzoukas is also excellent in support as Sudekis’ business partner and friend. Stay during the credits for the funny improve between Mantzoukas and Andrea Savage (playing his wife).
Leslye Headland’s script is raunchy enough to have you howling and traditional enough to feel comfortable which means it’s a perfect date movie! She has created a modern day When Harry Met Sally for the Judd Apatow R rated comedy era. Hey Amy Schumer! You paying attention?