Seeing Other People

on May 07, 2004 by Sheri Linden
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Sharply scripted, well cast and good-looking on a budget, "Seeing Other People" is a sex comedy full of insights about monogamy, promiscuity and other human endeavors. Husband-wife filmmaking team Wally Wolodarsky and Maya Forbes bring impressive credentials to their first collaboration: He began his career as a writer for "The Tracy Ullman Show," she for "The Larry Sanders Show." The winning mix of outrageousness and understated character observation that characterized those series is in full evidence in this indie project.

Ed (Jay Mohr) and Alice (Julianne Nicholson) have been together five years and enjoy the kind of familiarity and ease that involves shopping together for shampoo. At their engagement party, Alice sees a friend sneak into a bedroom to thrash around with a stranger and becomes obsessed with her inadequate sexual history. Ed's heartfelt reassurances do nothing to quiet her panic over missed opportunities, and she proposes that they see other people during the months before their wedding. Though he has no interest in doing so, Ed finally consents to her plan, and is shocked when Alice brings him news of having made out with someone. At first Alice's dalliance reignites the passion between her and Ed. Before long, though, he's behaving like a sex addict while she, rather than enjoying the "slut days" she dreamed of, is saddled with a clingy boyfriend (Matt Davis).

The leads do fine work as a couple losing control of their experiment, and they receive strong support. Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") and Lauren Graham ("Gilmore Girls") are spot-on nasty as Alice's besotted Brit brother-in-law and cynical sister, a couple bound by money and mutual hatred. Andy Richter plays a sad-sack good guy who falls for a neurotic single mom (Helen Slater); Josh Charles delivers a compelling combo of slickness and vulnerability as sitcom writer Ed's agent; and Jill Ritchie throws a great tantrum as a young crack-smoking waitress Ed is seeing. There are cameos from musicians Liz Phair and Korn's Jonathan Davis and from Mimi Rogers, who seems in danger of being typecast as the lascivious and wealthy older woman. The digital camerawork makes the most of a range of L.A. locations for a lived-in but striking look that echoes the material's heady blend of satire and compassion. Starring Jay Mohr, Julianne Nicholson, Lauren Graham, Bryan Cranston, Josh Charles, Andy Richter, Matt Davis, Jonathan Davis, Jill Ritchie, Helen Slater and Nikki Crawford. Directed by Wally Wolodarsky. Written by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky. Produced by Gavin Polone. A Lantern Lane release. Comedy. Rated R for strong sexual content, language and some drug material. Running time: 90 min

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