Wednesday, September 30, 2015

[Review] Sleeping with Other People

New romantic comedies have it rough. The bad ones will fall victim to ridicule due to their cheesiness or lack of authenticity, and even the good ones will still get called out for their cliches. But don't all genres have cliches? There seems to be this notion that newer rom-coms need to be subversive in order to be considered "good". But can't a good rom-com just be a good rom-com? This year's Sleeping with Other People is in the same vein as other recent enjoyable explorations of platonic or no-attachment relationships, like last year's Daniel Radcliffe & Zoe Kazan starring What If, as well 2011's Mila Kunis & Justin Timberlake starring Friends With Benefits.

Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis are the couple here. Jake (Sudeikis) and Lainey (Brie) first meet in college dorms and have a one-night-stand. Lainey is presented as a stereotypical "drunk and loud white girl", and Jake is a fast-talking know-it-all and Beatles 'Stan' with Weezer and American Football posters on his walls. 12 years later, the two run into each other at a Sex Addicts meeting (yes, apparently they both turned out to be sex addicts). During the present time, the characters are significantly less obnoxious and way more likable (good call). Anyway, the two decide to start hanging out and attempt a "just friends" relationship, but we all know how that usually goes.

The humor here is nothing gut-busting, but there are plenty of chuckle-worthy lines of dialogue, as well as some funnily timed situations. There's a standout scene where Jake and Lainey go to one of their friends' son's birthday parties--high. Most of the comedy actually comes from Jake and Lainey's respective *advice-giving sidekicks* played by Jason Mantzoukas ("The League") and Natasha Lyonne ("Orange Is the New Black). Adam Scott and Amanda Peet (who was great in HBO's first season of "Togetherness") also have secondary roles.

But there comes a point in the story when it's clearly established that Jake and Lainey love each other (more than platonically), and that they need each other more than they need the other people that they're sleeping with. So it begs the question - Aside from a haphazard pact that they made, what is actually stopping them from just getting together? Nothing. They're mostly just standing in their own way for unfound reasons, so the stakes and conflict almost feel non-existent. And the ending drags more than it should. But even with that said, this film is still a gleefully pleasant experience. We're rooting for these two.

Very much like the aforementioned What If and Friends With Benefits, Sleeping with Other People doesn't necessarily subvert the rom-com cliches, and that's okay. It's just a good rom-com.


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