'A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy' (R)
Would-be sex comedy about a group of friends throwing themselves an orgy is neither sexy nor funny.
Think of your closest, oldest six or seven friends of both sexes. Now imagine convincing everyone to take part in an orgy. Awkward, no? That’s the story hook of A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy, in which an overgrown man-child, Eric (Jason Sudeikis), convinces his closest pals to overcome their awkwardness and take part in the eponymous event. Among the participants: The pot-bellied Mike (Tyler Labine), who is unafraid of anything; the therapist Alison (Lake Bell), whose unhappy relationship with a self-obsessed guy may have finally run its course; the pretty but shy Sue (Michelle Borth), who is still harboring a high school crush on Eric, all these years later; and the career-obsessed Adam (Nick Kroll), who can’t go anywhere without his Blackberry.
The writing-directing team of Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory claim to have come up with the idea for this comedy more than a decade ago, but the movie feels as if it had been conceived and written on the back of a cocktail napkin, then handed over to the actors in hope they could come up with some funny business. No such luck. Sudeikis, a longtime fixture on Saturday Night Live, has made a big push toward movie stardom this year (this is his third meaty role of 2011, after Hall Pass and Horrible Bosses). But he doesn’t have the weight or charisma to anchor a large ensemble cast, and his character makes no sense: He argues that an orgy would be a perfect way for the gang to overcome the stigma of having grown up during the AIDS-obsessed 1980s without explaining how, and he’s oblivious to the charms of a beautiful young woman who has made her interest in him obvious.
Without a solid ringleader to guide the way, the rest of the cast is left to flounder in a script that is surprisingly light on jokes and heavy on improbable situations. Despite its seemingly daring subject matter, A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy turns out to be a romantic comedy of the squarest kind, in which all the plot strands lead to annoyingly happy, corny endings and everyone walks away wiser and more enlightened. As a newlywed couple who resent not having been invited to the festivities, Will Forte and Lucy Punch score the biggest laughs, but they’re barely in the film. Instead, we’re stuck with Sudeikis and his cohorts, trying (and failing) to shock us into laughter with supposedly outrageous scenarios and the occasional flash of nudity. You know this supposedly risqué comedy is in trouble when the funniest gag involves a foot cramp during sex.
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Lindsay Sloane, Michelle Borth, Lucy Punch, Will Forte, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll.
Writers-directors: Peter Huyck, Alex Gregory.
Producer: James D. Stern.
A Samuel Goldwyn Films release. Running time: 91 minutes. Vulgar language, nudity, sexual situations, adult themes. Opens Friday Sept. 2 at: area theaters.