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Watch: Jason Sudeikis Plays A Horndog, Again, In 'A Good Old Fashioned Orgy' Trailer

The Playlist By Sam Price | The Playlist July 22, 2011 at 2:41AM

Orgies, generally speaking, tend not to be most riveting stuff on film, as anyone who suffered through Tom Cruise’s winding, nonsensical journey to see wife Nicole Kidman Julienne Davis get violated by strangers in a country house whilst wearing a mask in “Eyes Wide Shut” will no doubt agree. You'd think the "raunchy" trailer for the Apatowian “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” – which sounds like it was a good title before it was a good screenplay - would aim to explode this notion quicker than you can say “Fidelio” with an onslaught of middle-class thirty-somethings disrobing and engaging all kinds of bad behavior. As it is, there's little of that on display here: Tyler Labine takes his shirt off a couple of times and the principal cast have a round of tequilas. Wild.
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Orgies, generally speaking, tend not to be most riveting stuff on film, as anyone who suffered through Tom Cruise’s winding, nonsensical journey to see wife Nicole Kidman Julienne Davis get violated by strangers in a country house whilst wearing a mask in “Eyes Wide Shut” will no doubt agree. You'd think the "raunchy" trailer for the Apatowian “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy” – which sounds like it was a good title before it was a good screenplay - would aim to explode this notion quicker than you can say “Fidelio” with an onslaught of middle-class thirty-somethings disrobing and engaging all kinds of bad behavior. As it is, there's little of that on display here: Tyler Labine takes his shirt off a couple of times and the principal cast have a round of tequilas. Wild.

The film – helmed by debuting writer-directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, who have a great track record for their work in television -- received some decent notices back when it premiered at Tribeca a couple months ago (our reviewer had a lot of time for it), suggesting it might be a sniff above the likes of the similarly-themed ‘Generation X hits its mid-life crisis’ movies “Couples Retreat,” “Hot Tub Time Machine,” and “Hall Pass”. On the evidence of this trailer, though, something must've got lost in the PR campaign because it looks more like a belated sequel to “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom” with less of the funny bits.

The trailer asks of us, “When you’re young, your friends are like family, but some families behave better than others. But when it’s time to grow up, do you go out with a whimper or a bang?” and proceeds to extend its homage to T.S Eliot’s much-abused poem "The Hollow Men" by showing real-life hollow men and women cavorting around in stupid costumes, falling in swimming pools and – gasp! – lounging about drinking white wine. This is the way the world ends, is it?

The plot involves a presumably affluent white man-child called Eric (Jason Sudeikis) who, threatened by the closure of his surrogate family’s “summer playground” in the Hamptons (the horror), for some reason decides to become a latter-day Caligula, or at least the human incarnation of the whacked-out ‘party dude’ from "Futurama" Slurms McKenzie and stage an orgy to give this hallowed ground the proper send-off it deserves, and literalize the notion of a Labor Day weekend ‘blow-out’.

Sudeikis is a decent enough performer, even though his sudden post-“Horrible Bosses” omnipresence (he also recently landed a gig on the third season of HBO’s excellent “Eastbound & Down”) is starting to grate a bit. But he’s surrounded himself with some other able comedians (Will Forte, Lake Bell, Martin Starr) even if Labine seems to sidle into the apparently-now-customary “overweight friend with a forthright personality” role a tad too lazily. Quite why American mainstream comedies seem locked in such an adolescent death-grip is, we suppose, up for a good old-fashioned mass debate. The most obvious target is Todd Phillips – the dull "provocateur" behind the two “The Hangover” movies and “Old School,” whose early quasi-documentary “Frat House” apparently aimed to explore the dark side of fraternity pledging, but has since seen its subjects' behavior embraced into Hollywood's expansive bosom, particularly now that plush R-rated comedies are back in vogue.

Of course, there’s a precedent for doing this sort of thing the right way and it's unfair to judge solely on the basis of one trailer alone, given the film's positive appraisals elsewhere. Paul Mazursky did a pretty good job skewering these impulses on “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” in 1969, as did “Shampoo”, whilst Mike Nichols flipped male sexuality on its head in “Carnal Knowledge” a few years later and Lynn Shelton flagged up similar issues in “Humpday” as recently as 2009. For all we know “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,” might be in this grand tradition, or simply a lot of good fun, but the trailer doesn't impart much outside of "male idiotic behavior is often funny" or, as Slurms McKenzie himself might say, “WHIMMY WHAM WHAM WOZZLE!”. The film opens September 2nd in a limited release.


This article is related to: Films, Actors, Actresses, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis, Lake Bell


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