Ed (Jay Mohr) and Alice (Julianne Nicholson) are an engaged couple on the brink of a rut. Alice, who is relatively inexperienced sexually, suggests that before they get married they should both be allowed to engage in casual sex for an undetermined period of time. Ed is initially skeptical, but agrees after much prodding. The couple then embarks on a series of sexual misadventures; Alice takes up with Donald (Matthew Davis), a needy hunk of a landscaper, and Ed finds himself with Sandy (Jill Ritchie), college-aged girl. But the film's actual, inexplicable focus is the endless bickering between Ed and Alice, whose feelings about this arrangement flip-flop about once every two or three minutes, expressed through an endlessly flowing river of unfunny dialogue.
It's really in all this talk that Seeing Other People fails to come together; there are big laughs in the corners of this movie. A wonderfully hangdog Andy Richter, as one of Ed's friends, has a subplot in which he woos a divorcee with a young son; it has little-to-nothing to do with the rest of the story, and is all the better for it. Lou, another friend (played by Josh Charles from Sports Night), is a crass slickster who seems to funnel most of his human feelings into affection for his pets; neither of these characters are really necessary, but the filmmakers are wise to keep them in anyway. Wolodarsky previously worked on some of the best episodes of The Simpsons, itself possibly the best TV series ever; he knows from good gags.
But People's colorless kvetching doesn't bother with, say, satiric one-liners. The main characters sound like tuneless Woody Allen imitations, with all of the whining and none of the wit (most of the couple's rejoinders are on the level of "This is stupid!"). Mohr, who usually specializes in characters a lot sharper (and more weaselly) than the genial Ed, is stranded playing a nice dope. The Nicholson character is given the thankless task of single-handedly instigating the ill-fated plot. This sets the film off-balance; her casual-sex idea does seem stupid from the outset, and the characters barely sell it to each other, let alone the audience. The result is a movie that dwells on the realistic effects of a fairly ridiculous idea -- one that is clearly better suited to farce.
You can see a funnier movie peeking through. When Ed's relationship with Sandy sours, for example, Seeing Other People briefly resembles a sex-comedy After Hours: A couple in over their heads struggles against a sexual experiment that refuses to end. But the movie is over before this possibility is fully realized. We're left with only the erratic, occasionally hilarious side comedy and a couple of odd musician cameos, including Jonathan Davis of Korn (as a drug dealer) and Liz Phair (as an aerobics instructor).
Run time: 90 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 28th April 2011
Distributed by: Lantern Lane Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 13 Rotten: 20
IMDB: 6.0 / 10
Director: Wallace Wolodarsky
Producer: Gavin Polone
Starring: Jay Mohr as Ed, Julianne Nicholson as Alice, Josh Charles as Lou, Andy Richter as Carl, Lauren Graham as Claire, Bryan Cranston as Peter, Mike Faiola as Tim, Sheeri Rappaport as Naomi, Mitch Morris as Doug, Liz Phair as Yoga Teacher, Niki J. Crawford as Venita, Willie Garson as Writer, Lew Schneider as Marty, Alex Borstein as Tracy, Matthew Davis as Donald, Shanna Moakler as Kasey, Chay Santini as Diane, Rachel Shelley as Lauren, John Riggi as Maître d', Wallace Wolodarsky as Salesman, Helen Slater as Penelope, Dylan McLaughlin as Jake, Jill Ritchie as Sandy, Mimi Rogers as Elise, Nicole Marie Lenz as Miranda, Tom Paul Wilson as Dicey Character, Jonathan Davis as Ricky, Riki Lindhome as Girl Kissing Ed