Time Out says
An old-fashioned rom-com that isn't afraid to get dirty.
At a time when studios seem to have all but abandoned rom-coms in favor of stories that better accommodate spandex and dinosaurs, Bachelorette writer-director Leslye Headland delivers a nostalgic sext to the half-forgotten age of films that spanned the distance between meet-cute and marriage.
An updated riff on When Harry Met Sally… (if Harry and Sally were openly horny for each other), Sleeping with Other People begins in the fall of 2002, as two star-crossed Columbia undergrads swap virginities on the rooftop of their dorm. Thirteen years later, Jake (Sudeikis) is a womanizing entrepreneur who just cheated on his girlfriend with her sister, while Lainey (Brie) is a kindergarten teacher who’s cheating on her boyfriend with the creepy gynecologist (Scott) she’s been obsessed with since college. Both of them are masters in the art of self-sabotage: Jake doesn’t want to get intimate enough for anyone to hurt him, while Lainey can’t stop being hurt by the same guy. When the old flames reunite at a sex addicts meeting, they decide to give friendship a try, agreeing to rely on a safe word (“mousetrap”) every time one of them feels an itch of sexual tension. Of course, it isn’t long before they both catch a few strong whiffs of cheese.
Headland loves rom-coms too much to overly subvert them, but she spices things up at every turn, allowing for a degree of hedonistic dirtiness that movies like this seldom get to explore. The almost pathologically charming Sudeikis was born to play a scene in which he uses an empty bottle to teach Lainey how to masturbate. And Brie, whose character shoulders some heavier baggage, commits to Lainey’s compulsions in a way that Meg Ryan never could. It hurts that most of the jokes fall short of their potential, especially because Headland refuses to milk easy laughs by winking at genre clichés, but her decision to play things straight helps clarify a truth at the heart of movies like this: Rom-coms aren’t about the difficulty of finding true love but rather the futility of trying to fight it.
Follow David Ehrlich on Twitter: @davidehrlich
Cast and crew