Imagine if the characters on TV’s beloved sitcom Friends lost their lease and decided to mark the end with an orgy. That’s the basic idea of the new big-screen raunch-fest A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, which gives new meaning to “I’ll be there for you.”
Of course, people seemed to like Friends, whereas the thirtysomething characters in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy—at one point self-described as “The Lamest Generation”—tend to be annoying and/or obnoxious. The picture stars Jason Sudeikis (rapidly becoming the screen’s King of Boors) as Eric, the hub of a circle of New York City friends. They live and work in New York City but go wild on weekends at the East Hamptons home of Eric’s dad (Don Johnson).
The party’s over when the home goes up for sale, against Eric’s vehement objections. Since the huge parties all have themes (the tone-deaf first scene depicts “the White Trash Bash”), Eric and best bud Mike (Tyler Labine) rub their brain cells together to come up with the perfect idea for a “final Labor Day blowout.” And then it hits them: an intimate get-together (if you know what I mean).
Therapist Alison (Lake Bell) calls the idea “insane, idiotic, and self-destructive,” but it gathers steam until eventually the friends are all on board: work-obsessed Adam (Nick Kroll); nervous Laura (Lindsay Sloane), who determines to stop fretting and put herself out there; Sue (Michelle Borth), who carries a torch for Eric; indecisive Duquez (Martin Starr), who has a law degree and a competing rock-and-roll dream; and his supportive girlfriend Willow (Angela Sarafyan).
Eric troubleshoots an uncharacteristic crisis of conscience when he begins getting serious with his dad’s realtor Kelly (Leslie Bibb), who knows nothing of the orgy plans. The movie’s most amusing conceit finds the group’s just-married friends (Will Forte and Lucy Punch) offended not to have been included in the orgy; in their attempt to crash the event, they sadly misinterpret its Kama Sutra theme. The pals naturally learn that getting started is the hardest part, but when all is said and done, the orgy must go on.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy has its moments (ten points for mocking use of Enigma’s “Sadeness”), but they’re few and far between, and for a movie about an orgy, it has a surprisingly been there-done that feel. Making their feature debut after toiling in TV, writer-directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck take essentially the same tack as Kevin Smith did with his Zack and Miri Make a Porno: friends finally exploring sexual possibilities with each other, making for comical awkwardness and a mash-up of raunch and heart. But Smith’s bolder NC-17 film stands relatively tall, while Orgy remains comedically flaccid.
[This review first appeared in Palo Alto Weekly.]