Almost everyone dreads the saying, “I think we should see other people.” It means you just got dumped. But writers Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky turn this catchphrase on its head. Seeing Other People, also directed by Wolodarsky, focuses on an engaged couple, living in Los Angeles, who have hit a rut after being together for five years. Alice (Julianne Nicholson) and Ed (Jay Mohr) love each other, but their sex life has become monotonous. After catching a glimpse of a couple having sex at a friend’s party, Alice finds herself strangely turned-on and admits to Ed, later that evening, that she’s only slept with three people. This very fact that bothers Alice so much and makes her feel like she may have missed out, of course only soothes Ed because he’s about to marry a wholesome woman.
After a protracted debate, Ed reluctantly agrees that he and Alice will see other people up until their wedding. They create only three ground rules, which are: No sleeping with anyone else in their house, always use condoms, and have complete honesty. Alice’s uptight sister, Claire (Lauren Graham), and Ed’s oily network executive co-worker, Lou (Josh Charles), both egg them on, rather than hit them over the head with a billy club in an attempt to knock some sense into them. What ensues is a slow unraveling of their relationship as Alice acquires a serious boyfriend and Ed sleeps with every whore on the Westside.
Seeing Other People is a perfect example of a successful independent comedic film. Its jokes are subtle and witty, allowing the viewer to laugh at the absurdity that ensues from Alice’s and Ed’s experiment. Alice’s new boyfriend, Donald (Matthew Davis), ends up stalking her and Alice soon realizes as much as she wanted to be a slut, she is just a relationship girl. It’s a classic conundrum that I have heard more than one of my married female friends complain about. “I wish I slept with more people, before I got married,” they whine. But when pressed, who they would have slept with or what they would have done differently, they respond, “I guess nothing.” The film depicts this fact and the nature of female behavior so poignantly. Ed’s carnivorous appetite for sleeping with as many women as possible culminates in a much anticipated threesome with two college girls. One of the women pulls out a dildo and wants to use it on Ed. He freaks out and is then accused of being a boring suburban sex guy.
Watching this film, almost ten years after its initial release, is like playing a game of Where’s Waldo with every major television star of today. Lauren Graham, Josh Charles, Andy Richter, Bryan Cranston, and Helen Slater all make up an incredible ensemble cast that only further enhances the performances of Mohr and Nicholson. Graham’s Claire is miserable, resents her marriage and is super snarky. She is Alice’s polar opposite and what Alice fears she may turn into. Graham’s best line is, “I have stoner clarity.” Charles’ character Lou is a womanizer, but it’s later revealed he’s alone and lives with three cats even though he’s allergic. Richter’s Carl is a hopeless romantic and quickly falls for Slater’s Penelope, despite her recent divorce and bouts of unprovoked rage. The best supporting role belongs to Cranston, who plays Claire’s nauseatingly disgusting husband. He secretly fantasizes about Alice and walks around in a speedo with a built-in belt. It’s hard to imagine the Breaking Bad star playing any other role than Walter White, but this 2004 film helps to further show Cranston’s amazing range.
The only fault I could find with this film has to do with the premise. It doesn’t take more than two or three brain cells to assume that Alice and Ed’s experiment is not going to run smoothly. That takes away some of the suspense and lends itself to a predictable plotline. It also involves a break of reality on the viewer’s part to go along with their ridiculous plan, when it seems obvious that seeing other people two months before one’s wedding is just plain crae-crae.
Seeing Other People is the perfect vehicle for comedian Jay Mohr to deliver his self-deprecating style of humor and absurdist observations about people and their quirks. The film will remind you what funny should be, and I only wish that Hollywood studios took note, so they could stop turning out giant turds like The Internship.
Take a Drink: every time someone says an F-bomb. If it has an “er” or “ing” at the end, even better.
Take a Drink: every time someone says the word, “Sex.”
Do a Shot: every time you see Jay Mohr naked.
Shotgun a Beer: when a split-screen is used.