Sleeping with Other People

In writer-director Leslye Headland’s Sleeping with Other People, ye olde let’s-try-a-platonic-relationship trope gets a dirty-talking update. It makes an impression less as an individual movie than as a kind of movie, the R-rated rom-com, circa 2015. To help you remember: This is the one with Jason Sudeikis teaching Alison Brie how to masturbate by demonstrating on a juice bottle. The action, such as it is, takes place within a cozy and lushly romantic Manhattan cityscape, swathed in EZ-Watch production values. This environment proves unsurprisingly hospitable for cute mechanisms of curtailed arousal, a sympathetic comment on the messy hurt that comes from wanting to feel chosen, and a plot advanced by blurting out the wrong name in the heat of, uh, friction. We’re meant to appreciate the refreshment of a female writer-director’s perspective, but the movie’s one-size-fits-all idea of sexual pleasure — of intimacy, for that matter — prevents it from seeming like a breakthrough. Sudeikis as a “womanizer” might need some suspended disbelief, but if you squint and look at him sideways he could pass for a young Dennis Quaid — or a young Chevy Chase, at least in terms of his comic timing. While we’re unfairly likening actors to other actors, let’s add that Brie seems packaged here as something like the next Rose Byrne, gamely pushing beyond TV work but still required to audition as the sexy-sweet comedic lead. There is a nicely subdued turn from Adam Scott in the challenging role of a secret lover who’s also a creepy gynecologist, not incorrectly described as having “all the charm of a broken Etch-a-Sketch.” Amanda Peet is in it, too.