Review: Sleeping with Other People
It is very, very difficult to dislike actors Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis. Near impossible really. One would have to place the charismatic duo in a truly embarrassing and sexist narrative in order to make them grating and unlikeable, and this is precisely what writer/director Leslye Headland (Bachelorette, 2014’s About Last Night) has accomplished in the feature Sleeping with Other People. In her attempt to make a modern-day When Harry Met Sally, Headland has instead made a film with as much understanding of the female psyche as Michael Bay.
The aforementioned Brie and Sudeikis play Lainey and Jake, who, after losing their virginity to one another in a meet-cute one night stand in college, serendipitously bump into one another at a sex addicts meeting in New York where they both reside. It seems school teacher Lainey (real name Elaine, but despises to be called as such because of all The Graduate references lobbed her way) is still very much obsessed and sleeping with her former college boyfriend Matthew (a mustachioed Adam Scott). And Jake, well, Jake is just a womanizing cad (the film doesn’t even attempt to explain what his occupation is, except to mention that he’s ridiculously wealthy due to some sort of high powered merger). Together they make a pact to help each other through their issues, sans any sexual activity with one another. Whenever either of them feel any sort of sexual yearning for the other, they establish the use of the phrase “penis caught in a mousetrap” (or just “mousetrap” for quick ease of use repeatedly in the film) to ensure that their friendship remains firmly G-rated.
What begins as a promising premise, however, soon delves into unrealistic and often misogynistic territory. One assumes that Lainey is attuned to how to behave around children, considering her day job as a teacher (that we never see her at nor does she speak about, mind you). Yet at a children’s birthday party she instructs the junior attendees to stand around and watch as she dances seductively in a teeny bikini top and short shorts. Likewise, the audience is informed that she has successfully gained acceptance to medical school, yet in one graphic scene she listens wide-eyed as Jake teaches her how to pleasure herself. Not to mention, she routinely either goes shopping for or sits around her apartment in expensive lacy lingerie. It’s a shame that Headland didn’t choose to fully develop or explore Lainey’s insatiable yearning for her unrequited flame, the lone realistic narrative thread that will undoubtedly hit close to home for most young women.
Although leads Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis ooze charm in spades, Sleeping with Other People is an aggravating disappointment.