Sleeping With Other People


In a way, this is a formula movie that we've all seen before: boy meets girl, boy and girl briefly have a fling, then part ways, then accidentally meet up much later and find there's still some spark.
And stop me if you've heard this one, also: boy and girl decide that they're just going to be best friends, and tell each other all about their love lives with other people, but before long they begin to realize....yes, they're in love with each other.
Despite the cliches, there's still a few surprises left in this somewhat raunchy rom-com. Jake (Jason Sudeikis), who seems to be one of those guys who absolutely can't stand commitment, isn't quite as emotionally shallow as he acts. The way he puts it is really kind of poignant: he knows that when you get attached to someone, you risk losing them. And he doesn't want to go through that kind of pain again. So his solution is to not allow himself to get emotionally involved. This being the 21st century, what that effectively means is that he, being reasonably attractive and articulate, manages to attract many women who are quite willing to get intimate very quickly, but then are immediately disappointed when they don't receive the reciprocal emotional response they might have expected. He fools them every time. But when even he recognizes that continuing in that pattern means he's going to get old and be alone, he finally attends a sex addiction workshop, and finds her there. The girl. His first, all those years ago at Columbia University.
Lainey (Alison Brie) had aspired to be a doctor, but became obsessed with a guy, Matthew (Adam Scott) who actually did become an ob/gyn, but married someone else. Lainey was somehow content to be his part-time mistress, while teaching kindergarten by day, and by night availing herself of meaningless one-night stands. Yes, as her best friend points out to her, she's not only making herself emotionally unavailable, she's giving up the emotional space that might have been filled by someone who actually has a future with her. So when Lainey and Jake happen to get back together, they decide they really can “just be friends.”
But of course their attraction to each other is obvious to everyone around them, even though it isn't to them. As viewers, we're a bit torn, because we realize that they've both developed some real relational immaturity, which is not easily re-directed. But of course that's part of the tension, and the humor: nobody they know is very grown-up, either. Bosses date employees, married people do drugs at kid's birthday parties, and friends don't seem to have many filters when discussing their personal sex lives.
But like other raunch rom-coms, this one is really, at its core, a sweet little romance, with a lot of scatological baggage. It's intelligently written and artfully played, but it's definitely R.

Questions For Discussion:
  1. Have you known people who were afraid of emotional commitment? Was there a “cure”?
  2. Do you think that “The One” is more likely to be someone from your youth?
  3. Are people who've had trouble making commitments good candidates for suddenly “getting it right”?

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the Supply Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Kaufman, Texas