In Sleeping with other People, Lainey (Brie) and Jake (Sudeikis) get together once, and then don’t see each other again for years. When they do meet up again accidently, they’ve each been through difficult relationships, and after confiding in one another, they agree that they’ll simply be friends to avoid the stickiness of a sexual relationship. A fine friendship does develop; they have fun times together, but date other people. They talk freely, and support one another in whatever difficulties they’re having with others. They have to work through small piques of jealousy from time to time, and their friends often remark about how they seem like a couple—which they always emphatically deny—but they do genuinely seem to care for one another.
Eventually, Lainey decides that she will return to medical school after being a kindergarten teacher, and she moves to Michigan. Oddly (to me) they part without plans for staying in touch, and Jake gets involved with Paula (Peet) who is his boss, is divorced, and has a child. The film shows vividly how unconscious concerns and preoccupations can simmer underneath a person outside of awareness. Jake and Lainey will meet again, but only after a considerable amount of turmoil.
The film is billed as a comedy, but even though there are some funny lines (“You’re not an addict; you’re a whore!”), much of the story is about the ups and downs in relationships and the difficulty in staying faithful to a mate, more serious business. Sudeikis and Brie are entertaining in their roles, they have good chemistry together, and Brie gets to show off her dancing skills and Sudeikis his gift of gab. A host of other stars surround them (e.g., Jason Mantzoukas, Adam Scott, Andrea Savage), showing that the film is well cast.
Director Leslye Headland (writer as well) keeps a good pace and clear direction, and the music of Andrew Feltenstein and John Nau matches the changing moods of the story, often making a humorous reference with it. There are some rough spots (as in the beginning when Lainey is throwing a senseless tantrum in the school dormitory), a lot of casual sex and rather public hook-ups, which lends some unevenness in the flow. The cruel way a character is dumped toward the end of the film is another episode that does not fit well in a comedy. I think the film would be better if it lightened up and offered more wit and less turbulence.
A rom-com with more upheaval than comedy.