A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

8 Oct

Title: A Good Old Fashioned Orgy
Year: 
2011
Directors: 
Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck
Writers: Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck
Starring: 
Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Michelle Borth, Nick Kroll, Tyler Labine, Lindsay Sloane, Lucy Punch, Will Forte, Martin Starr, Angela Sarafyan, Don Johnson
MPAA Rating: 
R, pervasive strong sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Runtime: 
95 min
Major Awards: –

IMDb Rating: 
5.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 
31%

I didn’t know exactly what to make of A Good Old Fashioned Orgy before I went into it. It was the directing debut of a team of writers who had been staff members on Late Show with David Letterman in the 90’s and also done scripts for TV shows like King of the Hill, Frasier and The Larry Sanders Show, so they certainly had some pedigree to them, not to mention that going with such an explicit title for their film meant that they were game for promising big racy laughs from the very title.

The ensemble cast they had surrounded themselves with also seemed like it could work, led by Jason Sudeikis, who was coming off from the exceptionally hilarious Horrible Bosses (which I graded a B+), and including strong comedic supporting players like Will Forte (who was on SNL with Mr. Sudeikis from 2005 until he left in 2010), Tyler Labine (that second-rate Jack Black who’s had a string of short-lived sitcoms, one of which, Reaper, was actually pretty awesome), and Lucy Punch (who was last seen on this year’s Bad Teacher which I gave a B to) among others. I like when strong supporting comedy actors are allowed a chance to shine in an ensemble, much like we saw this year in the insanely funny Bridesmaids (which I graded A-). And yet for all the promise I could pinpoint in the talent assembled for this film, there was just something telling me this just wouldn’t gel all that well.

And what eventually happened was that my gut feeling was right all along, this film was just plain bad. Seriously, I don’t care how much quality comedy Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck have written in the past, the screenplay they delivered this time was just super lazy, full of cheap laughs that didn’t even come all that often, something that an R-rated comedy film that promised to be as racy as this one just can’t afford, not to mention their first stab at directing was really crappy, too, as they only managed to get super boring and stale performances from every single member of their cast. And while my initial reaction about the premise was that it would at least provide the opportunity for some pretty solid laughs if the script proved to be wild and racy enough (in a smart way, obviously), upon further introspection I realized that an orgy is really an impossible subject to get intelligent laughs from. But then again, this one was shamelessly clear about how it only really wanted cheap vulgar laughs.

It’s really a pity that this all falls on Mr. Sudeikis. This is a guy who’s just super talented and is emerging from the SNL crew as this likable everyman, and even though he obviously is in charge of carrying this film and fails, you still have to feel bad about him, because he’s really the only one who looks as though he was actually trying here (though still certainly not trying hard enough). He plays Eric, the leader of the pack amongst a group of guy friends with whom he gathers for regular huge parties at his father’s house, he’s a typical character Mr. Sudeikis would play, randy in this sort of sweet-natured way with a sort of roguish charm to him. But anyways, Eric’s father, who’s played by Don Johnson, then drops the hugest of bombs on his son and tells him that he’s planning on selling the house soon enough. And of course Eric thinks that before the house is sold they must they must throw the party to end all parties, which is, of course, the one mentioned in the title of the film.

From there the film tries to ask questions surrounding the orgy they assemble, like, will they actually have the balls, literally and figuratively, to go through with it, and, more importantly, will their friendships survive such an extreme event. And maybe something could have come out from all of this, but this movie is just incredibly stupid and has no soul in it for it to even pretend to be something halfway decent. And it sucks because these are all very likable actors we have here but the characters are so unbelievably dumb and look like desperate attempts by the writers to make them better characters out of better films we’ve seen before. And maybe it’s good that these characters are not believable in the least of ways, I mean, it would be even more painful if characters we actually got to care for a bit were in this movie, I wouldn’t be able to watch them go through such painfully embarrassing situations as some of the ones we see here.

I won’t go into some of the plot points, nor will I go into the two love interests Eric has here, I won’t go into it because this film really doesn’t deserve it. If it seems I’m being overly critical of it that’s just because I wanted this cast to do better, but their performances are insipid because their roles were horrible and the direction they got was totally dull, I mean, Martin Starr (who’s of course been on two of the funniest TV shows of all-time in Freaks and Geeks and Party Down) and Nick Kroll (who stars in FX’s The League) are just wasted in roles of guys who have to play it straight through it all, I mean, you have Martin Starr and Nick Kroll to play with here and you make them be the straight-men? That’s just crazy. I just hated what this one did with its potential, it just lacks ambition in every aspect of the word, and underachieving films like this shouldn’t really exist.

Grade: D+

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