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Elevated Rom-Com: Sleeping with Other People 

Sleeping with Other People is one rom-com our reviewer can actually like because it has just enough nasty and subversive to make it interesting

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I am not a fan of the rom-com. Romantic comedies rank somewhere alongside found-footage horror films and basketball-playing golden retriever movies as my least favorite types of motion pictures.

In fact, you could put all of your You've Got Mails, your Pretty Womans, and your Notting Hills on a really old boat, set that bastard on fire with a few stashes of C-4 in the stern for good measure, and push that sucker out to sea. I'd stand on the dock, smoking a fat cigar and raising a glass of champagne to the rom-com burning boat thing's fiery demise. Then, I would most likely vomit violently because I don't smoke or drink, and combining both at the same time, well, that would be bad.

Mind you, there are exceptions, of course. I like Jerry Maguire, High Fidelity and Annie Hall. Heck, at times when I was going through a real bout of inner sappiness, I even liked Maid in Manhattan and Serendipity.

I guess what I'm saying is that every once in a while, a rom-com comes along with a slightly different twist, or it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes (They were just adorable together!) and I kind of like it just fine.

Sleeping with Other People is one of those rom-coms that I like just fine. It stars the always amusing Jason Sudeikis and the funny and charming Alison Brie in what can actually be billed as equal parts sex comedy and rom-com. Writer-director Leslye Headland (Bachelorette) follows a lot of the old rom-com standby rules with her screenplay, which can get a bit cloying at times, yet she keeps things subversive and nasty enough to qualify her movie as somewhat original.

The film starts with an amusing collegiate flashback as Jake (Sudeikis with his hair combed just so to make him look 20) witnesses the beautiful Lainey (the 32-year old Brie easily passes for 20 with no major makeup tricks) throwing a temper tantrum in his dormitory's hallway. Jake rescues Lainey from a vigilant R.A., takes her to his room, and they both lose their respective virginities.

Cut to the present day, where Jake has become a womanizer and Lainey is still hung up on the douchebag she was throwing a tantrum for back in her college days. That douchebag is Matthew (Adam Scott), who has become an OB/GYN engaged to be married, but still keeps Lainey around for various infidelity scenarios.

Lainey and Jake had fallen out of touch, but they reconvene at a sex addiction meeting, and quickly become friends. Friends who are attracted to each other but refuse to sleep together. Yes, it's one of those "When are these two going to screw, gosh darn it?" movies.

In less capable hands, this probably could've been an awful slog. Fortunately, Sudeikis and Brie have killer chemistry, so it cancels out any hang ups caused by the sometime gimmicky screenplay. They are fun to watch, and they make their characters believable no matter how ridiculous and cliché the circumstances become.

There's a solid supporting cast, including Scott as the douchebag, Amanda Peet as the hot boss, Natasha Lyonne as the cool lesbian BFF and the quite hilarious Jason Mantzoukas as Jake's business partner and best friend. Everybody in the cast seems to realize they are in a brain dead rom-com, and they just go all in. The results are surprisingly entertaining.

The film owes a lot to 80s sex comedies like About Last Night, which was recently remade with Kevin Hart. Coincidentally, it just so happens that Headland wrote the screenplay for the About Last Night remake, so she had a little sex comedy practice coming into this gig. Basically, a sex comedy is a rom-com with some naked butt shots inserted to make it R-rated.

Sudeikis and Brie are a couple of winners, and they elevate the material. The film's final act goes a little crazy in the head, and that suits the proceedings. Sleeping with Other People has enough laughs and twisted darkness to put it a notch above your average rom-com. And, yes, it has naked butts in it.

More by Bob Grimm

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