Greetings again from the darkness. For kindergartners, making friends is as easy as a bag of gummy worms on the playground. For adults, it’s a bit more complicated. According to writer/director Patrick Brice (Creep, 2015) making adult friends can involve rectum paintings and penis prosthetics … at least after a lot of wine and too many bong hits. While this is not my wheelhouse for humor, it’s clearly a bold cinematic step and pushes the boundaries even further than other recent Duplass Brothers projects (they are Producers here).
Emily (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Adam Scott) have recently moved to L.A. from Seattle with their young son. Emily and Alex are good parents, good people, and a solid couple – except for some sexual incompatibility. While at the park, their son (and his gummy worms) befriends the son of Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), one of the endless oddballs that populate L.A. Kurt charms Emily and Alex into visiting his home for an adult dinner party/kid playdate.
Greeted at the door of the mansion by Kurt’s French wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche), Emily and Alex are clearly wooed by the worldliness and sophistication of their new friends. Kurt is a bit of a renaissance man and he and Charlotte also appear to be a solid couple … though as the evening unfolds, we soon enough discover their own sexual incompatibility. And therein lies the core and conflict of the film – relationship dynamics impacted by sexual tension explored through raunchy humor.
It’s interesting to compare Brice’s film with Paul Mazursky’s 1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, and analyze the cultural and cinematic differences brought on by the 46 year difference. What was shocking then, is nothing compared to what this film has us believe that most young adult couples are struggling with now. Emily and Alex spend the evening exploring their boundaries as individuals and as a couple, while being softly pushed by the more adventurous Kurt and Charlotte. Were it not so raunchy, the theme would be more interesting … though significantly less appealing at the box office.
All four lead actors are strong, but Schwartzman and Scott handle the more challenging roles with aplomb. Given my preferences, I could have used a safe word on a couple of occasions, but the real test will be whether audiences find the film a bold step forward, or whether it is judged to be shock for shock’s sake.
watch the trailer: