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A Good Old Fashioned Orgy: Tribeca Review

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy still

The Bottom Line

Less raunchy than expected, summer sex comedy gets laughs while nominating Jason Sudeikis to be this year's Paul Rudd.

Directors-screenwriters

Peter Huyck, Alex Gregory

Cast

Jason Sudeikis, Lindsay Sloane, Lucy Punch, Will Forte, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb

With carefully placed limbs and pillows, "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" eventually earns its R but may leave audiences wanting more.

NEW YORK — Funny if less outrageous than expected given the boundary-pushing comedies that have found acceptance in recent years, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy earns its R but may leave audiences wanting more. Co-writers and first-time directors Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory deliver a solidly commercial picture modeled on '80s summer romp-romances, doing a lot more good for Jason Sudeikis' ensemble-leading cred than the Farrellys did with Hall Pass.

Sudeikis plays Eric, that most crucial member of any circle of friends: the guy with a place in the Hamptons. Trouble is, Dad (Don Johnson) owns the place, and has decided to sell — Eric's gonzo-party antics may seem asinine in the film's opening scenes, but even the biggest jerk looks more sympathetic when saddled with Sonny Crockett as a father figure.

Needing an over-the-top theme to ensure that his last house party outshines all others, Eric invites his seven closest friends to an orgy. (One hint that men are behind the camera: All four of the women in this proposed sexcapade look like models while only one of the men can be called handsome.)

After much reluctance, all the friends agree, with one offering a rationale based on AIDS's effect on would-be libertines in the '80s and '90s: "Kids today are freaks. Our parents were freaks. We're the lamest generation!"

As planning begins for the Labor Day bacchanal and Eric tries to slow the house sale by wooing his realtor Kelly (Leslie Bibb), Huyck and Gregory prepare us for serious raunchiness with shopping excursions for sex toys, "instructional" videos and a trip to somebody else's orgy, where simulated coitus abounds.

In a running gag, Eric's big-bellied best friend Mike takes studious notes when others avert their eyes. As Mike, Tyler Labine is the cast's only automatic laugh-getter -- his co-stars (including the poorly utilized Martin Starr) can deliver the script's often witty banter, but satyr-like Labine is inherently funny. He's a fine foil for Sudeikis, whose appeal here derives from a relaxed, ladies' man self-confidence.

The actual night of sex starts badly, of course: While Huyck and Gregory don't mine it for awkwardness as effectively as Lynn Shelton exploited a similar premise in Humpday, they make the scene unpromising enough that it's a relief when somebody besides Labine finally gets undressed.

The action is conspicuously prudish given the build-up, with lots of carefully placed limbs and pillows covering up everything but Labine's leopard-print thong. Only one of the four women (the actress with the least dialogue) exposes anything remotely R-rated, and none of the men do (proving that Judd Apatow was nowhere near this set).

In the end, an anything-goes orgy is just another catalyst for conventional romantic pairings and predictable personal growth -- a reassuring message, maybe, for viewers who never ran wild.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival, Spotlight section (Samuel Goldwyn Films, Stage 6)
Production company: Endgame Entertainment
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Lindsay Sloane, Lucy Punch, Will Forte, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll
Directors-screenwriters: Peter Huyck, Alex Gregory
Producer: James D. Stern
Executive producers: Brian Etting, Ram Bergman, Doug Hansen
Director of photography: John Thomas
Production designer: Alan Hook
Music: Jon Sadoff
Costume designer: Leah Katznelson
Editor: Anita Brandt Burgoyne
Rated R, 91 minutes