Review | A Good Old Fashioned Orgy

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, which had its North American premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, will inevitably draw comparisons to The Big Chill. Just substitute the dead friend with dildos.

This is a reaction directors Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck fully intended, even admitting that they screened the movie for the crew while they were shooting on location in North Carolina. Although that rare Chill-like bond between actors clearly shines through on screen, I found Orgy to be more of a Wet Hot American Summer starring 30-somethings. Perhaps it was the recurring joke of main character Eric (played by Jason Sudeikis, of SNL, 30 Rock and Hall Pass fame) uprooting and discarding annoyingly ever-reappearing “for sale” signs outside his Hamptons summer home, reminiscent of so many campers chucked from the back of a van by Paul Rudd in Summer. Or the fact that both movies feature hilarious bits of juicy gossip divulged between its members when broken off into private male- and female-only cliques. Or that they both possess characters named Katie (not that I’d be biased in noticing such a similarity).

More likely, though, it’s that the two films offer a wealth of tongue-in-cheek gags, a mixture of established and up-and-coming comedic actors, whip-smart humor and palpable chemistry between their players. But – and I’m aware that repeating the title seems to give this statement less credibility – A Good Old Fashioned Orgy boasts a hell of a lot more sincerity and heart.

We’re introduced to the story’s key players during an opening montage, where they’re pictured counting down the minutes within their respective Manhattan office environs before promptly rushing into cars and hauling themselves to their pal Eric’s Hamptons home. There they blow off all that pavement-hittin’ steam at a White Trash Bash (which appropriately includes revelers in mullet wigs guzzling PBR’s, riding tractors and eating bean dip from the bowl of a porcelain toilet).

It doesn’t take us long to figure out that Eric is the epic shindig-throwing ringleader of this motley crew of 30-somethings who’ve maintained bestie status since high school. There’s therapist Alison (Lake Bell) and her on-again, off-again boyfriend Marcus (Rhys Coiro), school teacher Laura (Lindsay Sloane), hard partier Mike (Tyler Labine, who irrefutably steals the show with his Jack Black-like comedic timing and Chris Farley lovability), law student/wanna-be musician Doug (Martin Starr) and his girlfriend Willow (Angela Sarafyan), new mom Katie (Lucy Punch) and her hubby Glen (Will Forte), mysterious and sexy Sue (Michelle Borth), and hypochondriac workaholic Adam (Nick Kroll). This is a long way of saying: Don’t let the archetypal characters (or their seemingly generic problems) fool you – the flick assembles one hell of a cast that breathes gut-bustingly funny life into every line of dialogue.

The crux of the film’s sex-toy and lube-laden climax is that Eric’s dad (a cameo performance that others may spoil, but the surprise ain’t gonna be divulged by me) rolls up in his convertible, with the requisite 20 years-younger girlfriend, to pay Eric a visit in the beer can-strewn afterglow of the White Trash Bash. Over the niceties of the gloriously rich – golf references and promises of yoga dates – Eric’s father divulges that he’s putting the house on the market.

And so begins the scheming for one last insane blowout before the summer shack is sold out from under them. Eric and Mike get all the credit for this – stumbling upon the idea while walking together, ruminating about the fact that, somehow, when they weren’t looking, they became the creepy old men hitting on younger women. They gather the rest of the group around the Hamptons home fireplace and, paraphrasing a key speech in The Goonies, pitch the idea of a massive orgy among friends. “We need to take back what’s been taken from us! We’re the lamest generation!” they lament. In true form for what is the perfectly paired relationship that provides the heart of this movie, Labine and Sudeikis play off each other to close out their offer: “We need to think outside the box!” declares Eric. “And inside the box!” counters Mike.

It seems an insane whim, but one-off conversations and dramatic occurrences result in each member being emboldened by an urge to conquer personal shortcomings, or rebel against current hardships, until – one by one – they yield. The plot is thickened when Eric falls for his real estate agent Kelly (Leslie Bibb, who holds her own with Sudeikis in adorable and alluring form). How will they stall Kelly from selling the house before Eric can have, as Mike so delicately puts it, a “crazy wet sexual misadventure in your past you won’t have to tell her about”? And when they pull it off, what will be the repercussions for this group of old chums?

The rest, as they say, shall remain behind closed doors until you have the pleasure of seeing for yourself. And, in case I’ve not made myself K-Y Jelly clear: I highly suggest you do so.

Sudeikis’ recent appointment as host of this year’s MTV Movie Awards should widen the (18+) audience for Orgy’s September release. As should the pains Huyck and Gregory clearly took to temper its NC-17 material (not exactly CGI characters blocking the action à la Eyes Wide Shut, but the questionable happenings are converted to R-rated fare with cropping, prop placement and creative camera angles). An understated teaser poster for the film was unveiled last week (its design nicely ties in with a closing scene of the film), and there’s surely more to come in order to build anticipation leading up to its theatrical release.

Huyck and Gregory no doubt knew they’d land butts in seats with the title. It leads one to beg, “How could I not see this movie?” The happy ending, though, is that their spot-on casting and solid narrative deliver bang for your buck. And countless opportunities for journalists like myself to weave delightfully cheesy puns into their reviews …

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Comments

  • Sugarlgl1der

    Hey, a “slob” comedy about a bunch of middle aged guys who are trying to live out adolescent fantasies and yet in the end discover they have hearts after all…nope, never seen that one before.