This has been a summer of OK comedies -- not great, not terrible, enough laughs to keep you watching but not to render the kind of comedic experience that leaves you feeling as though you've been worked over because you've been laughing so hard.
Think Bad Teacher and Horrible Bosses -- the kind of movie you won't resent devoting time to on cable or pay-per-view but feel slightly abused for coughing up the price of a first-run movie theater ticket. A Good Old Fashioned Orgy fits the category easily.
That's because, at heart, it's a series of sketches assembled into what can roughly be called a narrative. Good-looking actors uttering mildly funny, occasionally (very occasionally) uproarious jokes and doing things that run the gamut from inappropriate to just plain gross: You know the formula.
The story, in a script written by Peter Huyck, is about Eric (Jason Sudeikis), an arrested adolescent approaching his 30s with a job that has a minimum of responsibility, apparently, and a maximum of free time. He tends to spend his summers throwing massive blowout parties at his parents' house in the Hamptons. He's got a core group of pals -- male and female -- with whom he's buddies without being sexually involved.
But when his father (Don Johnson in a meaningless cameo) announces that he's going to sell the place, Eric is crushed -- then decides he needs to throw an epic farewell bash. He finally finds the perfect theme: an orgy, like the swingers of the pre-AIDS era. It will just be him and his group (or, perhaps that's grope) of pals, getting freaky with each other.
The complications seem minor: For one thing, Eric meets and falls for a local realtor (Leslie Bibb) -- and feels as though the orgy might be the wrong thing to do, given that he has actually feelings for her. There's also the question of convincing the women in the group (who are all good-looking) to have sex with men who aren't all that attractive. As I said, pretty small potatoes.
The cast itself is a minor-league mix-and-match group, a blend of Saturday Night Live, the Judd Apatow crew and Comedy Central types, at least as far as the men go: Nick Kroll, Tyler Labine (when is someone going to write this guy some funny material?), Martin Starr and Will Forte. The women -- led by Lake Bell and Lindsay Sloane -- get almost none of the punchlines.
Here's a quibble (and I debated devoting an entire column to this but thought better of it): This is an R-rated sex comedy with an absolute minimum of frontal nudity. What is up with that? You get more skin on an episode of Entourage or Game of Thrones than in this film -- and I'll be fair and say that applies to both male and female nudity.
As I said earlier, there are laughs to be had in A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, though they're inconsistent and haphazard. The whole movie has that sloppy feel, as though it were assembled from leftover parts of other, better comedies.
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