Seeing Other People

At a time when what passes for romantic comedy usually stars Disney Channel ingénues unfamiliar to anyone over the age of 15, this small, unassuming paean to fidelity deserves special notice. It's not only sexy, clever and well-acted by a fine cast of mostly TV actors, but it's also a grown-up comedy about honest-to-God grown ups. Alice (Julianne Nicholson)...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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At a time when what passes for romantic comedy usually stars Disney Channel ingénues unfamiliar to anyone over the age of 15, this small, unassuming paean to fidelity deserves special notice. It's not only sexy, clever and well-acted by a fine cast of mostly TV actors, but it's also a grown-up comedy about honest-to-God grown ups. Alice (Julianne Nicholson) and Ed (Jay Mohr) have been together for five years and intend to tie the knot, despite first-hand knowledge of what conjugal bliss has done to their friends. Ed's agent, Lou (Josh Charles), was just dumped, lost custody of his beloved dog and is now filling his empty nest with cats. Wedlock has made Alice's rich and nasty sister, Claire (Lauren Graham), who's married to a British bore (Bryan Cranston) with bad breath and a spastic colon, richer and nastier. Ed's friend, Carl (Andy Richter), seems to be the only one who believes in the sanctity of wedlock, but that's probably only because he's alone. Alice and Ed are undeterred, but when she sees a friend having casual sex with a cute waiter at a party, Alice realizes that she's got a few unsown wild oats of her own. The thought that marriage will mean an end to the possibility of ever again having sex with virtual strangers leads Alice to press Ed for a mutual reprieve from monogamy, at least until their wedding day. The day after Ed very reluctantly agrees, Alice makes her first conquest: handsome contractor Donald (Matt Davis), who's working on the same L.A. property she's landscaping. But the sex turns out to be anything but casual; Donald is needy and clingy and won't go away. Ed, meanwhile, isn't having much luck with the ladies, even though he's a hot-shot writer for a successful sitcom. When he finally does hook up with Sandy (Jill Ritchie), a waitress with a Harvard degree, she turns out to be much more than he bargained for. The biggest challenge facing director/co-writer Wally Wolodarsky lies in keeping Alice and Ed likeable even as they devolve into not very nice people; Alice turns cruel and Ed becomes as big a cad as Lou. Amazingly, you never stop hoping they'll find their way back to each other. In many ways the film is a throw-back to "sophisticated" adult comedies like BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE (1969) — right down to the names — which, while seeming to push the boundaries actually reinforced the morality of monogamy by exploring the messes heedless swingers make of their lives.

Cristin Milioti, <em>USS Callister (Black Mirror)</em>

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