A Good Old Fashioned Orgy Is a Better Idea than You’d Think

It's kind of like 'The Big Chill', without the funeral, clothes or ethical restraint

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Samuel Goldwyn Films

Jason Sudeikis as Eric and Tyler Labine as Mike in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy.

Many critics, including this one, lament the prudish attitude contemporary American movies tend to have toward sex. There’s definitely plenty of raunch, but since the end of the ’70s and the advent of a leering-through-the-peephole Porky’s sensibility, sex itself gets less play than titillation and tittering about it. So a tip of the hat to A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, a frequently very funny movie about planning and executing exactly what the title describes.

Eric (Jason Sudeikis) has known most of his thirtysomething gang of friends since high school. At their summer hangout in East Hampton, borrowed from Eric’s parents, they come to the conclusion that they’re “the lamest generation” when it comes to sex. Their parents might have been swingers, but AIDS arrived as they hit puberty; one or two generations later, public school teacher Laura (Lindsay Sloane) tells them, contemporary teens are performing acts the grown-ups never dreamed of in high school.

They’ve always used the house for huge, wild parties (sample theme: “The White Trash Bash”), but then Eric’s father (Don Johnson, uncredited) announces he’s putting it on the market. Devastated, Eric decides that their Labor Day party must be worthy of marking the end of an era: an orgy. Eric doesn’t want to have sex with strangers; what he’s proposing is more like an all-naked, politics-free Big Chill or Return of the Secaucus Seven. Co-directors and writers Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, whose shared writing experience includes King of the Hill and Late Show With David Letterman focus on the head game of 10 friends becoming lovers, just for a night. (They’re definitely not focused on the look of the movie, which is murky and filled with static shots.)

“Insane, idiotic and self-destructive,” huffs Alison (Lake Bell), a therapist by trade. She’s the curvy beauty whom all the guys hope will sign up for the orgy, even though she speaks in psychobabble. Of the women, only Sue (Michelle Borth), who has an unrequited crush on Eric, is instantly enthralled with the idea. In Gregory and Hucyk’s screenplay, everyone is a notch wittier than they would be in real life, but underneath that comic polish there’s a sense of true banter between old friends. They’re appealing, particularly the wannabe rocker (Martin Starr), the only mom in the group (Lucy Punch from Bad Teacher) and the two uptights, Laura and Adam (Nick Kroll, an adorable mini-Jeff Goldblum). Refreshingly, there aren’t a lot of famous faces in the ensemble. SNL vet Will Forte has a small part, but Bell (It’s Complicated, No Strings Attached) and Sudeikis are the closest thing to stars.

Having established the orgy setup, Gregory and Huyck struggle with the filler. They throw in a research trip to an underground sex club that’s entirely unnecessary and distasteful, instigated by Michael (Tyler Labine), the group’s pudgy slacker. (Speaking of: a ban on scenes in which anyone with the build or facial hair of Jack Black or Zach Galifianakis simulates sex acts with his hands and tongue could prove a boon to comic innovation.) As for Eric’s blossoming romance with a real estate agent (Leslie Bibb) — this side plot would be obligatory for a chick flick, but here, why bother? Still, any movie that includes the plea “Will you do the orgy with me?” still gets points for creativity.

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