Dec 7, 2015 Film & TV
This is her second film as writer/director, and the first, Bachelorette (2012), was pure vinegar: an ensemble night-before-the-wedding comedy with such a trenchant lack of empathy for any of its characters that its one-liners hit like poisoned darts.
Misanthropy is apparently not Headland’s only mode, because while Sleeping with Other People has its darker side, the darkness is there only to add depth and substance to a story which at its heart is pure champagne. Lainey (Community and Mad Men’s Alison Brie) and Jake (Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis) meet in college, lose their virginity to each other, and don’t bump into each other again for 12 years.
Jake is by now a bed-hopping serial cheater, and Lainey is hopelessly in love with a man who only wants her as an occasional bed-warmer.
The commitment-shy boy-man and the smart woman pining after Mr Wrong: these are as tired as 21st-century pop-culture archetypes get, which is why it’s so refreshing to see Headland round them out and turn them into actual people, whose developing friendship has some real spark.
It helps that Brie and Sudeikis are so easy to like and have such great chemistry; but as much as a romcom needs strong leads, the thing it lives and dies by is its script. Jake and Lainey talk like a couple from the age of screwball comedy, had screwball comedies been R-rated, and their relationship doesn’t march to its inevitable happy ending merely because this is a romcom and that’s what romcoms do. Headland earns both her laughs and her plot twists the hard way.