It's easy to compare a movie to another movie, particularly as most of them are pitched that way. "It's 'Die Hard,' but in a blender!" etc, etc. But when "Sleeping With Other People," a romantic comedy by Leslye Headland starring Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis premiered last night (January 24) at the Sundance Film Festival, the comparison to one other seminal romantic comedy was pretty abundantly clear:
And clearly, as Headland revealed in the post-screening Q&A, the comparison was entirely intentional:
What's the movie about? Brie and Sudeikis play two New Yorkers who meet in college, lose their virginities to each other and then fall out of touch for more than a decade. Years later, the two have become emotional messes, unable to deal with sex in any real way because of their life-changing one-night-stand. They happen to meet up at a sex addicts meeting (featuring a hilariously dirty cameo by Billy Eichner), and strike up a non-sexual friendship based almost entirely on recognizing that they have intense sexual chemistry.
For a movie that features multiple sex scenes, tons of talk about sex, and the most graphic fingerbanging of an iced tea bottle in movie history, "Sleeping With Other People" is a surprisingly conventional romantic comedy. But what elevates it to that "When Harry Met Sally" level -- other than one line of dialogue pretty much straight up says, "men and women can't be friends, you know that" -- is the wonderfully hilarious chemistry between Brie and Sudeikis, and a brilliant supporting cast including Jason Mantzoukas, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Natasha Lyonne and Marc Blucas (Riley Finn, you guys!!!).
Also similar to "When Harry Met Sally?" Like Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan before them, Headland has structured it so that Sudeikis' motor-mouthed character Jake gets the majority of the laughs (and insanely long monologues about love), while Brie as Lainey moves far away from her buttoned-up "Community" character, to ably shoulder the bulk of the emotional work of the movie.
End of the day -- and mild spoilers here for anyone who has never seen a movie -- "Sleeping With Other People" and "When Harry Met Sally" also reach the same conclusion, that men and women can't be friends. Though one of them -- I'll let you guess which one -- deals with it a much raunchier way.
The movie hasn't been picked up for distribution yet (though given Sundance's pace that should be a matter of hours), but when it does hit a theater near you just prepare yourself for your new rom-com obsession.
"Sleeping With Other People" is now playing at the Sundance Film Festival