Someone has called this comic raunchfest “When Harry Met Sally with assholes.” Since that someone is the film’s writer-director, Leslye Headland, she’s allowed. But she’s also selling herself short. Sleeping With Other People hits the sweet spot between hot and hilarious because its lovers spit at romcom clichés. Maybe not as spittingly as in Bachelorette, Headland’s debut film, but enough to give us two assholes to root for.
They are Jake (Jason Sudeikis) and Lainey (Alison Brie), the girl he deflowered while they were students at Columbia in 2002. They reunite at rehab for sex addicts — Jake is a pussy-hound, and Lainey still hooks up with a college creep (Adam Scott), now an Ob-Gyn who’s engaged to someone else. They decide to become friends without benefits. Assholes!
All this would collapse if Headland didn’t keep things crackling, especially when Jake shows Lainey how to masturbate with a tea jar. Even when the laughs are spotty, the actors stay on point. Sudeikis, late of SNL, is terrific, showing an unexpected capacity for feeling as well as fun. And Brie, so good on Mad Men, can do anything, breaking you up at a kindergarten dance (Lainey is a teacher) while high on molly, or just plain breaking your heart. This movie does that to you. It makes you laugh till it hurts.