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A Good Old Fashioned Orgy Review: The Sweetest Little F*ckfest You'll Ever See

By TK | Film Reviews | September 6, 2011 | Comments ()

By TK | Film Reviews | September 6, 2011 |


A Good Old Fashioned Orgy starts up exactly as you'd expect it to. Thirtysomething manchild Eric (Jason Sudeikis) is throwing a white trash-themed party at his father's vacation house in the Hamptons. Eric's parties are legendary affairs, with costumes, props, hundreds of people, and enough booze to incapacitate a herd of elephants. It's a rager, it looks like a hell of a time, and Eric and his best friends are content to live their lives of listless labor in New York City, since his epic gatherings present a light at the end of the week's dreary tunnel.

All of this comes crashing down when Eric's father (a brief but delightful cameo by Don Johnson) explains that he's selling the house, and Eric and company realize that their partying days are at an end. They've got until Labor Day to come up with a plan for the grand finale, the party to outshine all others. And, as you can guess by the title, Eric and his best friend, the oafish, goofy Mike (played with affable, oblivious crassness by Tyler Labine) decide that the best course of action is to invite their small circle of friends and have an end-of-an-era orgy.

It's an idiotic plot device, and it will likely drive off a few viewers, but the truth is, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is less about an orgy and more about a group of friends finally escaping their days of arrested development, about exposing some truths about each other and about learning how to finally grow up. It's a surprisingly sweet movie, despite its copious profanity, nudity, and drinking, a charming and kindhearted picture about a close-knit group of friends finding their way... with the prospect of a giant fuckfest looming over them.

Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, who both co-wrote and co-directed the film, created a clever expository device wherein each friend's reaction and initial reasons for saying no... and then saying yes... demonstrates their own little idiosyncrasies while exposing their fears and broadening the characters. It's a necessary device, too, as each character is a painful walking cliche at the film's onset. There's the high-strung therapist Alison (Lake Bell), the shy mousy girl Laura (Lindsay Sloane), the nebbish nerd Adam (Nick Kroll), Sue (Michelle Borth), who's been carrying a torch for Eric since high school, and the two couples -- failed rocker Duquez (Martin Starr) and his girlfriend Willow (Angela Sarafyan), and neurotic newlyweds Kate and Glenn (Lucy Punch and Will Forte). It's a smartly assembled cast of comedic talents, and the chemistry between one another feels genuine, if a bit over the top. But there are some real moments of charm and a pervading sense of fun, even as they're all dealing with their respective insecurities. The wrench in the works is the arrival of Kelly (Leslie Bibb), the local realtor that Eric begins to take a shine to.

That's not to say that A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is a sexualized St. Elmo's Fire. It's raunchy as hell, at times discordantly so as it tries, sometimes unsuccessfully, to transition between the scenes of lighthearted camaraderie to scenes of bawdy ridiculousness. A scene where Eric and Mike visit a local underground sex club feels awkwardly tawdry -- it's not without its laughs, but it felt misplaced and at times excessive. Yet the scenes that work mostly outweigh those that don't, and the cast successfully saunters between good-natured, giggle-worthy conviviality, and balls-out, sex-fueled hilarity. A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is, thankfully, funny as hell as well as racy and silly and stupid. It avoids most gross-out humor, thankfully, though it does sometimes get a little too lowbrow. It's flaws are when it shoots for clever raunch, but misses and lands with an inglorious splat into Sandleresque idiotic territory. That those scenes happen is its misfortune, because it's what prevents the film from elevating itself from pretty good and occasionally hilarious, to consistently great.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy isn't destined to be a comedic classic. It's too vulgar and rife with nudity to make the TBS/TNT/USA rotation, and I don't know that it reaches the heights of greatness to do solid DVD business. But it's certainly entertaining, at times uproariously so. It's a mostly well-executed grown-up sex comedy that for the most part, avoids the pitfalls of unpleasant puerility that pervade so many projects in the modern era of comedy, and that's a rare enough breed that makes it worth seeing. It's got a gentle sense of charm to it amidst all the chatter about drinking and fucking, and though it's not a total comedic juggernaut, it does well enough with what it has to make it worth checking out.


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