A Good Old Fashioned Orgy Review

good-old-fashioned-orgyPretty much everything you need to know about A Good Old Fashioned Orgy can be found right there in the title. As you might expect from a comedy with “orgy” in the title, there is plenty of raunch, sex jokes a’plenty and a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. What you may not expect is a deep and thought-provoking tale of a man coming to terms with the sudden and brutal realities of growing up. And that’s a good thing, because you won’t find any of those things in this movie.

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is a comedy in the vein of Porky’s or Hot Tub Time Machine. It isn’t as memorable as either, but it has numerous similarities. It also doesn’t quite have the originality of The Hangover — well, the first Hangover at least — and the characters’ reliance on sticking to a traditional archetype is so strong that you may not know the names of some of the characters and instead will probably think of them as “the goofball best friend” or the “shy and slightly neurotic but beautiful woman.” If you want to win an easy bet, after seeing this film, challenge your friend, significant other or a random stranger to name all nine of the primary characters. If they can name four, fear them.

Despite the almost casually confrontational title, Orgy is a very traditional adult comedy. It won’t challenge you or make you think deep thoughts, but it has several funny moments, is populated by likable characters (even the forgettable ones are at least non-abrasive), and there are a few original jokes to be mined from the unoriginal dirt the film is grown in.

A funny thing happened on the way to the orgy

Eric Keppler (Jason Sudeikis) is a 30-something man-child, but a man-child with a family house in the Hamptons that he takes full advantage of by throwing epic and memorable theme parties, that are the highlights of his life — as well as the lives of his closest friends that have become de facto family since they met as kids.

When his dad (Don Johnson) announces that the good times are over and the house is up for sale, Eric and his friends decide to throw one last memorable party to close out the house, and to add an exclamation point to that period in their lives. So Eric and his seven closest friends, three other men and four women, decide to have a private orgy, because why not. As they prepare for the sexing, things are complicated when Eric falls for Kelly (Leslie Bibb), one of the real estate agents that is trying to sell the house.

good old fashioned orgy

While the film is somewhat dumb as most comedies of its ilk tend to be, there are a few hidden nuggets that border on insightful. They are fleeting, but they are there. One such gem is the quick, and quickly forgotten realization that people in their thirties today are where people in their twenties were in years past. If this movie were made in the 80s, the cast would have to be in their late teens or twenties. Now, a film like this filmed with thirty-somethings makes sense. It is a fleeting moment of self awareness that is soon forgotten, but it strikes a chord.

There is also a moment where, to convince their friends that the orgy is a good idea, Eric and his BFF Mike (Tyler Labine) argue that the generation now in their thirties were slightly stunted sexually by the onset of HIV and AIDS in the early days of that generation’s childhood. Again, it is quickly forgotten, but both moments serve to prove that while the film isn’t high art, it isn’t totally brain dead either.

Sometimes with movies like this, the filmmakers try to go too far in one direction or the other. They might try to make the raunchy comedy clever, or they could try to dumb it down. When this happens, the comedy usually falls apart. There are several exceptions that work, but far more films that have been forgotten over the years.

Written and directed by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, there are plenty of clichés in Orgy. The movie falls somewhere between smart and dumb, which makes it entertaining, but also may limit its lifespan. There are plenty of laughs, but the movie never really pushes the limits as you might expect a film about a sex party to push things. (If that comes off sounding dirty, it was totally unintentional. Well, mostly unintentional.) As a consequence, most might leave with a smile, then forget all about the movie a week later.

A mostly likable cast in time-tested roles

With a movie like this, the actors playing the main roles are really what sells the film. The characters are either predictable or forgettable, so the filmmakers needed actors that could stand out against archetypes they are defined by. They don’t have to be amazing, and most aren’t, but they need to not annoy the audience, and they don’t.

Jason Sudeikis makes the most of the role of Eric, a character you have seen dozens of times. He is the goofball alpha male that the other characters all gravitate around. He is the Tim Matheson from Animal House, the Luke Wilson role from Old School, Alan Covert from Grandma’s Boy and a dozen others. Whatever the movie, the character always has his (and it is almost always a he) unique quirks and motivations, but you could usually swap one character for another with minimal difficulties.

leslie_bibb_as_kelly_and_jason_sudeikis_as_eric

But characters like this are something of a coming-of-age moment for comedians and actors. They need to be able to convincingly play the lead alpha male in order to move on to other roles, and Sudeikis does so well. He has already made a decent career for himself, and this film probably won’t have enough clout to propel him to the public consciousness, but it could be a defining moment for him, and may create bigger opportunities.

The other stand out in Orgy is Tyler Labine, who is quietly tearing this year apart. Although probably best known to genre fans of the cult TV show Reaper, he had a small-but-strong turn in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and is set to make a giant splash later this year when the wildly buzzed about film Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is released across the US. In Orgy, Labine plays the goofy best friend. There are so many similar roles that it is tough to pick just one example. Once you see him, you will immediately feel a familiarity with the role. Labine manages to avoid making the character annoying, which is a very real possibility with a role like his. He sells it, and this could be one more step on the road to a breakout year for Labine.

The rest of the cast is fine, but forgettable, and also falls into a familiar groove. From Eric’s workaholic friend Adam (Nick Kroll), to the unbelievably attractive friend Sue (Michelle Borth) who has harbored a secret crush on Eric for years, to the psychologist friend Alison (Lake Bell) who always has some unwanted advice for friends while being oblivious to her own problems. Each characterization is familiar and well-trodden. The rest of the friends are equally bland in characterization, despite a few quirks like musician Doug Duquez’s (Martin Starr) battle with embracing the rockstar life, and Laura (Lindsay Sloane) as the “shy one.” It is nothing you haven’t seen before, and the little details are there just so you won’t totally forget about them.

Orgy shots

One somewhat minor exception are Glenn (Will Forte) and Kate (Lucy Punch), a recently married couple who find themselves on the outside looking in. They have some funny moments, but aren’t essential to the movie in any way. Leslie Bibb is also likable enough as Kelly, the typically charming and funny love interest that has an obligatory issue looming with the main character.

Conclusion

A Good Old Fashioned Orgy won’t blow you away with originality, and it is never hilarious. The characters are familiar archetypes that are serviceable, but won’t redefine the roles. The story is surprisingly tame as well for a film revolving around a sex party. It never pushes the boundaries, and probably won’t offend too many adults, which means it is accessible, but lacks the risk that could have made it great.

Still, Orgy, is an entertaining movie with some genuinely funny moments and likable characters that are brought to life by a good cast. If you are looking for a mindless, adult-themed comedy, then grab your friends and check out Orgy. This isn’t a movie about consequences or the harsh realities of life, it is a party movie that will soon be forgotten, but not before it earns a few laughs.

{A Good Old Fashioned Orgy is rated R with a  running time of 95 minutes}

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