Leslye Headland’s raunchy, Manhattan-set Sleeping with Other People has the misfortune to be among the first romantic comedies released in the wake of the recent hit Trainwreck.
The new film, written and directed by Headland (Bachelorette), is not a train wreck by any means. But Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis are no Amy Schumer and Bill Hader either.
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Headland’s sex addict hero Jake (former SNL cast member Sudeikis) and heroine Lainey (Brie, TV’s Community) meet cute at Columbia University in 2002, where med-school wannabe Lainey tries to consummate her attraction to her teaching assistant also known as “the Pontiac Aztek of people,” according to computer whiz Jake. Believe it or not, Jake and Lainey lose their virginity to one another on their first outing that evening and then do not see one another until the present.
Jake and his business partner, Xander (TV comedy veteran Jason Mantzoukas), who is married to the vivacious Naomi (TV comedy veteran Andrea Savage) with whom he has two kids, are expecting to reap a financial windfall for their Internet business. Jake is sexually attracted to his new boss, a smart, young divorcee and mother named Paula (a winning Amanda Peet).
Jake and Lainey meet cute a second time at a 12-step program for sex addicts and, despite having a safe word for when they get too attracted to one another (“mousetrap”), they agree to date but not to have sex with one another.
Got all that? Yes, Sleeping with Other People is contrived and at times confusing and full of the kind of hyper-clever, pop-culture infused dialogue no one in the real world speaks. Sometimes, this works when the actors sound like they aren’t straining. Why does Headland feel the need to make an Aaron Sorkin crack cocaine joke?
Sudeikis and Brie are talented and appealing to be sure. Natasha Lyonne is a gas as Lainey’s hoarse-throated lesbian best friend. But however large the screen I was seeing Sleeping with Other People on, it seemed like I was watching TV, and I’m already paying to do that.
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott, Jason Mantzoukas, Amanda Peet, Andrea Savage, Natasha Lyonne, Katherine Waterston, Adam Brody.
Writer-director: Leslye Headland.
An IFC Films release. Running time: 101 minutes. Strong sexual content, drug use. Playing at: area theaters.