“A Good Old Fashioned Orgy:” Gen Y gets its group grope

"A Good Old Fashioned Orgy" is shameless and unsubtle. So why do we root for these likable losers to get it on?

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"A Good Old Fashioned Orgy:" Gen Y gets its group grope

The latest movie to hop on the R-rated comedy bandwagon is “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy,” and parts of it are terrible. In one scene, an allegedly adult human male jokes about tearing off the “sex bracelet” worn by a teenage ice-cream girl, thus obliging her to perform oral sex on him. He then mimes the act with all the subtlety of an air horn. It’s sleazy, shameful and worst of all not funny — the sort of moment that should cast a raunchy pall over the rest of the film. And yet before long you find yourself rooting for this horndog to fulfill his carnal fantasies during the romp teased in the film’s title. Just not that particular fantasy.

“AGOFO,” in which eight high-school friends now on the cusp of 30 decide to commemorate their fading youth with a little group sex, could have been an utterly puerile waste of time, even by late-summer Hollywood standards. Thanks largely to its cast, however, it’s transmuted into an utterly puerile 90 minutes that fit the brain-dead zeitgeist of Labor Day weekend in a snug and mostly pain-free manner.

Leading this pack of perverted Peter Pans is Eric (Jason Sudeikis), who hosts alcohol-soaked, bacchanalian costume parties such as the White Trash Bash (complete with lawn-mower races and bean dip served in a toilet bowl) at his dad’s Hamptons estate. When pop (Don Johnson, in a nice cameo) decides to sell the place, Eric takes the impending loss of this rent-free paradise as a violation of his inalienable right to reign over a compound that makes the Delta House at Faber College in “Animal House” seem like an Amish nursing home.

Eric, on paper, is just another in the long line of Apatow-ian man-boys. But Sudeikis has a quality that seems more and more necessary to be a successful comic actor today: the ability to make this sort of repulsive cad actually palatable. You know, that thing that Jonah Hill can’t quite do.

If taking the loss of his own personal party palace as an affront isn’t bad enough, Eric and his requisitely rotund sidekick McCrudden (Tyler Labine) also view themselves as AIDS victims. Since the generation before them enjoyed risk-free screwing, and for the sex-braceleted kids today, “blow jobs are the new French kiss,” these Gen-Yers have clearly been deprived of their fair share of the guilt-free nasty. The solution, naturally, is an intimate Labor Day weekend of naked shenanigans, with a Kama Sutra theme. You know, to keep it classy.



The next step is to convince the rest of the gang of bangers, each of whom is defined by one particular hangup. There’s the indecisive aspiring musician (Martin Starr), the know-it-all psychologist (Lake Bell), the one with body-image issues (Lindsay Sloane), the uptight, career-obsessed one (Nick Kroll), and the one who has harbored a crush on Eric for years (Michelle Borth). One by one, each signs on, and even the one married, kid-having couple in the clique (Will Forte and Lucy Punch) eventually insist on being included.

With the house on the market, Eric and company split their time between trying to foil the snooty older realtor’s sales efforts until after Labor Day (apparently rescheduling the orgy wasn’t possible) and doing research, which involves a predictable but amusing visit to a swingers’ club in the backroom of a furniture store. (“They don’t sell these beds, do they?”) Meanwhile, Eric finds himself smitten with the younger, perkier realtor, Kelly (Leslie Bibb). Of course, he doesn’t want her to know about the upcoming sexcapade, but he also can’t sleep with her beforehand, because that would be uncool. Oh, the dilemmas of youth!

When that first weekend in September finally rolls around, of course, everything turns out to be even more awkward than imagined, at least at first. Maybe that’s because, despite all that research, they don’t really know what they’re doing. First, they kick the evening off with shots of absinthe, which is just about the stupidest way to ingest absinthe without a syringe. They continue to consume massive amounts of alcohol, which, from what I’ve heard, probably isn’t a surefire path to an all-night bout of coitus. (Have these folks never heard of Ecstasy, or even Viagra? It’s R-rated — why skimp?) And then there’s that whole weirdly incestuous seeing-your-good-friends-naked thing, which most of us got out of our systems sophomore year.

In short, these immature, fairly pitiable protagonists go about their absurd project in all the wrong ways. But you just keep rooting for them. This is the thing Sudeikis and many of his costars have, and it’s not acting ability. It’s not even “star power.” It’s sort of an id-based aspirational aura, the slight lopsided smirk of self-awareness that makes Sudeikis seem like Jason Bateman’s scruffier younger brother (and makes him a good Joe Biden impersonator on “Saturday Night Live”). Compared to his recent roles in “Hall Pass,” as an aspiring adulterer, and “Horrible Bosses,” as an aspiring murderer, Eric is a relative angel. But they are ultimately all of a piece, personifying a template you might call, in deference to another Sudeikis “SNL” creation, the Affable A-Hole.

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