Mark Reviews Movies

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy


1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Directors: Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck

Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, Lake Bell, Michelle Borth, Nick Kroll, Lindsay Sloane, Leslie Bibb, Martin Starr, Angela Sarafyan, Rhys Coiro, Will Forte, Lucy Punch, Lin Shaye

MPAA Rating: R (for pervasive strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language)

Running Time: 1:35

Release Date: 9/2/11

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Review by Mark Dujsik | September 1, 2011

There's only one thing to expect from a movie with the title A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (It's clearly not proper grammar). The problem is that's the only thing on the movie's mind until the characters finally let themselves go.

Until then, for a long period of time, the topic is open for debate and not in the way one would expect a group of almost life-long friends to ponder the possibility of a wild sex party where everything and anything goes. The actors play the whole scenario out as if their destiny is inevitable. When their leader announces the plan that their final blowout for the summer should be an orgy, all of them sit with telling, goofy grins on their faces. They've accepted it before their characters do.

The characters are so poorly drawn, though, that the giveaway smiles are probably the actors' natural instinct to do something when such a crucial line is spoken. We soon learn that most of them are, in fact, doubtful of the proposition, leading to an extended buildup of them convincing each other and themselves that a no-holds-barred night of sexual exploration is just the thing to kick-start their dull and boring lives.

It bears repeating that these people's lives are dreadfully uninteresting. Eric (Jason Sudeikis), the self-proclaimed "de facto leader of the wolf pack," apparently works, since we see him sitting in a conference room making a paper flower for a woman instead of listening to the meeting before sneaking out on his wheeled office chair. He lives for the weekends, always spent—as far as we can tell—at his father's (Don Johnson) summer home. There, Eric holds wild parties, trying to recapture the spirit of college days as he begins to realize that he's getting older.

If his gatherings are of the college level of maturity, then the mentality of his decision to hold an orgy before dad sells off the house is stuck somewhere in high school. It actually comes from a story of high school kids wearing bracelets, which, if pulled off, denote some sort of sexual favor to be performed. In a pathetic statement of competition against the possible sexual activity of teenagers, he announces that this orgy is their chance, essentially, to be on an equal level with children half their age.

The rest of the characters are defined in easily digestible ways. McCrudden (Tyler Labine) is the heavyset unemployed guy who hangs around Eric at all times, and Susan (Michelle Borth) has also had a crush on Eric for years. Alison (Lake Bell) is a psychologist with a penchant for the unsolicited analysis of her friends. Her boyfriend (Rhys Coiro) sees through the immature high jinks of the group and, therefore, must also be a humorless bore and cad.

Also too serious for the group are Adam (Nick Kroll), a man obsessed with work, and Laura (Lindsay Sloane), a naïve teacher with pent up sexual frustration. Duquez (Martin Starr) is a struggling musician with a window-dressing girlfriend (Angela Sarafyan), and Glenn (Will Forte) has a baby with and is about to marry Kate (Lucy Punch). The addition of the last two is unnecessary, except to set one scene at a wedding reception, where Alison can loudly make her decision to participate in the end-of-summer party to the confusion of the other guests.

The writers and directors are Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, who have written themselves into a corner with the burdensome amount of characters here. There's little time to develop them beyond the bare minimum required for the eventual argument that unfolds before they can figure out how to start up the festivities.

Most of the time, they are having generic conversations of anticipation or insecurity in between research (Eric and McCrudden attend an underground sex club for tips, where they run into the realtor (Lin Shaye) in charge of selling the house) and grooming (Adam states he has an aversion to needles, which leads to him passing out after a blood test (Ha?)). A romantic entanglement between Eric and the local Kelly (Leslie Bibb) is meant to show his growth in terms of seeing himself in a relationship and, after realizing he might have missed his chance, winds up as a justification for him to continue down the same path (The happy ending is a falsely calculating addendum).

What are missing are the actual jokes, and that's because the comic potential rests in the party itself. Yes, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy climaxes (no pun intended) with a good, old-fashioned orgy of sorts. It's both tame and safe, ensuring no one gets hurt, moves outside their comfort zone, or even learns anything. In other words, it's as unexciting as those taking part.

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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