I find that I usually am not a huge fan of ‘festival’ movies. You know the independent, art-house films that win all the awards at the film festivals. I can certainly agree that they are well-crafted, and beautifully put together, but I often don’t find them entertaining.
This movie is a prime example of that. Sleeping With Other People debuted at Sundance Film Festival and quickly garnered a lot of positive word of mouth. It’s billed as a romantic comedy. I would call it a romantic dramedy. It’s far more drama then comedy, in my opinion. As opposed to a comedy with some bits of drama, I would say it’s a drama with some bits of comedy.
The story begins twelve years ago as Jake is watching a clearly drunk Lainey pound on the dorm room door of Matthew. Matthew is clearly not home, and the R.A. is about to kick Lainey out of the dorm when Jake steps in to say she’s there with him. Together, they head up to the roof, where Jake learns that Lainey had intended to sleep with Matthew that night which he cannot believe because Matthew is so boring. This leads to Jake and Lainey having sex (for the first time) on the roof after getting high together.
We jump to present day, and Jake is chasing a woman who ran away from his apartment, apparently because he was dating her, but slept with her sister. He goes into a really arrogant, narcissistic monologue about how it’s actually her fault he cheated on her, because they never agreed they were exclusive, and that she didn’t really want to be with him anyway.
After that, she justifiably shoves him into an oncoming car. He heads to a hospital and then to work, where we learn he and his business partner Xander are selling their company to a larger conglomerate for a huge fee. He promptly hits on the new boss, Paula, who states she does not date her employees.
We also catch up with Lainey, who is out to dinner with her boyfriend Sam when she confesses to him that she’s cheated on him – he makes a scene and walks out on her, calling her a whore.
We then encounter the both of them at a “love addicts” meeting. They reconnect, and Lainey agrees to go out with Jake after advice from her friend Kara. They hang out with Xander and his wife Naomi to celebrate the sale, then go out on an actual date to dinner where they realize they are both screwed up relation-ship wise. Jake is afraid of being mean in dumping a girl he sees no future with, so he sabotages all his relationships by cheating, while Lainey is still hung up on Matthew from college and continues to sleep with him from time to time, ruining whatever relationship she’s in. He has such control over her that she stalks him a bit, and has legitimate panic attacks when he calls her. Hilarious – right?
In any case, the two decide they’re best being friends, and so start a relationship where they give each other relationship advice, and go to various events together – including getting high together and going to Xander and Naomi’s kid’s birthday party. Eventually they realize they’re in love with each other, but agree to do nothing about it. Lainey helps Jake…well, I’m not sure she really helps him; I guess he’s slightly less of a dick when she’s in his life? Jake helps Lainey attempt to get over her debilitating addiction to Matthew, even though she still has a complete panic attack when she runs into him at a party she’s at with her new boyfriend. Jake eventually gets his boss Paula to go out with him, and Lainey eventually gets accepted to medical school in Michigan. Just when they both seem to have stabilized, Jake runs into Matthew at lunch one day, and physically attacks him for “hurting his girl” – while he’s out with Paula. This causes Matthew’s new wife to go into labor on the street as she’s crying because he’s trading punches with some random dude. Totally hilarious, right?
Paula leaves him, he goes to jail – calls Lainey, tells her he loves her – and she seems to come back to New York to tell Matthew to drop his lawsuit, and marry Jake. Then it would appear the two of them are planning to go back to Michigan together.
The writer/director, Leslye Headland, also did Bachelorette – which was in a similar vein. The movie has many funny situations, but the two leads are so completely screwed up that it was hard for me to get attached enough to either of them to root for them. The cast is really magnificent, and they do a fantastic job with the material they have.
- Alison Brie from Mad Men and Community plays Lainey, and she does a great job of portraying a woman who is so completely attached to a man she cannot have that she cannot connect to anyone else. She’s struggling to move past it, but she keeps getting sucked back in.
- I feel like Jason Sudeikis played the same character he played in Horrible Bosses, a completely despicable womanizer, but he does have some moments where you see him begin to stretch past that. I found the character just so disgusting that I really could not pull for him. I did not understand why anyone tolerated him. There are a few moments where he begins to realize how much he loves Lainey that make you believe eventually there will be more to Sudeikis then you thought.
- Adam Brody has one scene as Lainey’s boyfriend Sam who she confesses to cheating on in the restaurant. The scene is character development for Lainey, but also seems to be an excuse to let Brody go a bit nuts in public.
- The hilarious Billy Eichner has a tiny cameo as the speaker at the meeting where Jake and Lainey run into one another.
- Amanda Peet plays Jake’s new boss Paula. I found it really annoying how insistent he was that she go out with him, and even more annoying that she was finally charmed into saying yes as opposed to just reporting him to HR.
- Natasha Lyonne plays Lainey’s friend Kara who gives her advice, both good and bad as she is trying to quit Matthew and decipher her feelings for Jake.
- Adam Scott is capable of really big comedy, so it was interesting to see him and his terrible mustache as the very low-key Matthew. Once he finally appears on screen, and the audience gets to see how boring he is, it is very difficult to understand Lainey’s obsession with him, but maybe that’s the point?
- Andrea Savage plays Naomi, and she pairs perfectly with Jason Mantzoukas, who plays Xander. They were hilarious together, and to be fair – Mantzoukas is the reason I went to see this movie. He was hilarious. Especially the scenes of he and Savage over the end credits.
Overall, the movie wasn’t bad, it was actually very well acted – and well crafted. It is a hard R and mainly for sex and language – a lot of sex - and for all the drug use, none of it is shown on screen. Xander and Naomi seemed charmed that Jake and Lainey get high then come to their kid’s party. I find that horrible, but hey – what do I know. I think my disappointment with the movie comes from expecting a really hilarious, laugh-out-loud, comedy. If I had been more clearly lead to believe that it was a more heartfelt drama with some funny moments, I think I would have been more pleased with the result. I think I also would have preferred it to be more of an ensemble, everybody in this movie is great - but it's a lot of Sudekis and Brie. If you have amazing side characters - use them more!
5 out of 10. Lost points for the drug use, lost points for the two leads being horrible people (yes, I know that was the point of the movie), lost points for Jake talking his boss into dating him, lost points for Matthew being equally horrible to Jake. Gained points for Mantzoukas.
Bonus Video 1: Leslye Headland helped to update the script to this 2014 remake of About Last Night, which I loved. And was a comedy with some dramatic moments.
Bonus Video 2: Only You – a zany romantic comedy that I loved.
Bonus Video 3: Cast Interviews.