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Film Review: 'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy' makes a plea for recklessness
There's something old-fashioned about "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," but it's not the orgy.
Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck's R-rated comedy doesn't fit into today's comedy categories. Maybe that's because Gregory and Huyck (a veteran TV writing team making their film directing debuts) came up with the idea in 1997 and have been working on it sporadically ever since.
"A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" feels more like a "Meatballs"-era summer romp, the kind we're generally either too cynical for now or we've simply outgrown. It's a party of a movie, for better or worse, with ambitions of generational resonance.
"What happened to our generation?" wonders the 30-something Eric (Jason Sudeikis). "I'll tell you what happened: AIDS."
Eric and "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" would like to eradicate inhibition in a generation weaned on psychobabble, Blackberries and Radiohead. Jealous of their hippie parents and of sexting teenagers, Eric and his friends want their own swinging good time.
All Manhattanites in life-draining jobs, the group of pals live for their weekends at Eric's father's East Hampton house. His father (Don Johnson, in a curiously brief cameo), though, has decided to sell the place, leading to a final Labor Day blowout.
When Eric suggests a last-hurrah orgy, the group gradually comes around to the idea. It's a good supporting cast, including Tyler Labine as Eric's loutish right-hand man (maybe a risky description for a film about an orgy); Lake Bell as a therapist dating a humorless German (Rhys Coiro); Martin Starr as an indecisive musician; Nick Kroll as a work-obsessed paranoid; Michelle Borth, who's harboring old feelings for Eric; and Lindsay Sloane, a shy cutie with body issues.
It sometimes looks like they had more fun making "Orgy" than we could possibly have watching it, but the good vibes are a big part of the movie's appeal. (It should be noted, though, that "Orgy," with its Hamptons setting and cargo shorts, is easily one of the whitest movies to come along in recent years.)
As the big party nears, the group readies for the occasion. At the same time, Eric begins dating one of the realtors selling the house (the striking Leslie Bibb), complicating the orgy plans.
Left out is the lone married couple among the old friends, played by Will Forte and Lucy Punch. They're (amusingly) infuriated to be left out, and in their few scenes, they're consistently the funniest thing in the movie.
The premise asks a lot of Sudeikis' charm. A "Saturday Night Live" cast member and budding movie star ("Horrible Bosses"), he has an undaunted, always-on-the-make cheerfulness to him: a rascal with his shirt tucked in. It's possible the most salient effect of "Orgy" will be to make his leading-man potential evident.
But group sex, to say the least, is a tough cookie. When the time comes, the awkwardness of the participants pales in comparison to the awkwardness of the audience. Gregory and Huyck don't go far in exploring the weirdness and emotional difficulty that a group of lifelong friends might create in sleeping together ' they want so much for a carefree holiday from such concerns.
Alas, the orgy revolution will have to wait.
"A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," a Samuel Goldwyn Films release, is rated R for pervasive strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language. Running time: 95 minutes. Two stars out of four.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:
G ' General audiences. All ages admitted.
PG ' Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 ' Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.
R ' Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 ' No one under 17 admitted.