Ever have one of those unexpected evenings where everyone imbibes
a little too much and the social conventions suddenly start eroding?
And you maybe did some things you wouldn’t tell your preacher
about? Or your Mother?
Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) begin this movie
by providing a sound track for a rather awkward sex scene.
They are trying to do the things that please the other, but
somehow it’s awkward and isn’t working, and in the end, well, it
appears that everybody’s on their own, until suddenly their little boy
bursts into the room, when the audience laughs nervously and the
characters try mightily to pretend they really weren’t doing anything.
Well, we feel for them, because all married couples, at times,
attempt to enjoy each other without, well, anyone really enjoying it
very much. The apostle Paul
was apparently asked to address this delicate issue by the Corinthians,
and he intones, “Do not deprive one another except perhaps by
agreement for a set time…and then come together gain, so that Satan
may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control”
(I Corinthians 7:5). Nice to hear from the expert.
Anyway, Alex and Emily shortly find themselves in the park with
their young son, where he seems to have suddenly
found a playmate about his age.
The little boy’s Dad, Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), quickly invites
Alex and Emily over for dinner, assuring them that it’s no problem
with his wife, Charlotte (Judith Godreche).
Alex and Emily, wanting to make friends in their new neighborhood
(they’ve just moved from Seattle to L.A.), accept, and at first, the
evening just seems like an ordinary couples dinner, with their sons
playing well together in the next room.
But when Emily feels that it’s time to go home, Kurt and
Charlotte prevail upon them to stay, saying the boys can have a
sleepover upstairs, and the adults can have another glass of wine
together. Alex and Emily
accept. Then it starts
Somehow it seems so California:
a little bong, a little skinny dipping, a lot more wine, and
suddenly we’ve let our guards down so much we seem to be tiptoeing
toward partner swapping, except that Writer/ Director Patrick Brice once
more has the kids crashing into the bedroom just before things start to
get too weird. (Though there
were several walkouts in the screening I attended.
Apparently they were overexposed and overstimulated and
Sexual confusion as couples comedy?
Well, it’s a daring attempt.
Alex even freely admits to his complex penis inadequacy, and
Emily, in reference to Kurt, her penis envy.
for some, not quite resolved enough for others.
And yes, it is uncomfortable to address intimate issues not
normally discussed on the big screen, but then, that’s supposed to be
part of the dark humor. The
implication seems to be, “Everybody’s at least a little bit messed
up sexually, it’s just that we don’t often know that about
others.” Well, that may be
true, but that may also be more information than most genteel viewers
wish to witness. The new
friends don’t, in fact, become friends, and their next encounter in
the park is suitably awkward. As
is the viewers’ exit from the theater.
You’re not sure whether to laugh out loud or try to avoid eye
contact. Maybe both