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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.09%
Worth A Look: 18.18%
Pretty Bad: 9.09%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 5 user ratings

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Seeing Other People
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by Collin Souter

"I just need some time away from Romantic Comedies, that's all."
3 stars

Since the beginning of 2004, I have been keeping track of the number of bland romantic comedies and their overall non-effects. I limit these to major Hollywood releases since the majority of them follow a particular formula and possess nary an ounce of edge to them. These are safe, cookie-cutter movies starring cute people who do cute things. I have counted five so far, but have yet to see the Pierce Brosnan/Julianne Moore film “The Laws of Attraction.” I have a default review for every one of these films since they all seem so gosh darn familiar. The new independent film, “Seeing Other People,” might have fit this same mold were it not so, well, independent.

But that’s a good thing. “Seeing Other People” has the luxury of not having to answer to a committee, thereby being comfortable with its R rating. Because of its charming cast and, at times, sharp writing, it fares better than the Mandy Moore/Julia Stiles/Jennifer Aniston/Adam Sandler/Tad Hamilton vehicles that have been taking up valuable screen space in our multiplexes. Yet, I can’t help but feel that same amount of indifference toward its central characters and the situation in which they have put themselves.

This could be an easy Hollywood storyline: Young, monogamous couple Ed and Alice (Jay Mohr and Julianne Nicholson) have decided to finally tie the knot after five years. Alice has been having second thoughts, not about whether she wants to marry Ed, but whether she has had enough of a sexual past in order to feel adequate. She comes up with a plan guaranteed for disaster: allow herself and her fiancé the opportunity to sleep with other people before they walk down the aisle, just to see how it feels.

The plan garners a mixed reaction from their friends and family. Alice’s sister, Claire (Lauren Graham of “Gilmore Girls” and the main reason I saw the film in the first place), is already stuck in a passionless marriage to her self-absorbed husband. Naturally, she kinda likes the idea. Ed’s friends, Lou (Josh Charles) and Carl (Andy Richter), have opposite reactions. Smug bachelor Lou sees it as a godsend while good-natured Carl sees it as a disaster waiting to happen. But it will happen, and we want to see how, even though we already know the result way, way, way ahead of time.

All these characters criss-cross with one another and end up in a series of affairs. The odd man out is Carl, who hooks up with a single mom with an emotionally confused, yet hateful, son. This part of the movie feels most out of place. It doesn’t segue very smoothly with everything else and feels almost tacked on. It could easily be a funny and insightful movie in its own right, but it feels counter-productive with everything else on screen. At the same time, one scene involving Ed and Alice accidentally meeting each other at a restaurant, each with their respective “others,” seems too obvious and labored.

The lesson to be learned: If you’re in a good monogamous relationship, stick with it. If you’re not happy, get out of it or work through it, but don’t try to have your cake and eat it too. Not exactly a mind-bender or even an insightful cautionary tale of our times. In fact, “Seeing Other People” misses an opportunity to explore the issue of permissible infidelity in regards to how Alice’s mind would have concocted the idea in the first place. She’s in her thirties, so it would make sense if she had unconsciously learned this notion from her swinging, Key Party-attending parents of the ‘70s. Just a thought.

The key to this movie’s success is the cast. Although I always have to make adjustment for Jay Mohr (since he will always be Hollywood asshole Peter Dragon from the defunct TV series “Action”), he does a good job of representing the happy everyman of monogamous relationships. He reacts to Alice’s plan the way we hope he would react. As Alice, Julianne Nicholson looks refreshingly real and exudes plenty dignity to go along with her insecurity. I can’t say anything bad about Lauren Graham because I love her. She’s terrific in this movie all the same and it’s certainly more fun to watch than her last cinematic outing, “Bad Santa.”

So, “Seeing Other People” isn’t a bad movie, just a little too obvious (hence the title). In the Rom-Com scheme of things, it fits into the same mold as “Walking and Talking” and “Kissing Jessica Stein.” Because of its great cast and witty asides, it all goes down pretty smoothly, more so than you would expect from director Wally Wolodarsky, creator of the abomination “Sorority Boys.” He tries a little too hard to be edgy with the material, but thankfully keeps the execution pretty low-key. It’s fluff, but at least it’s not the Hollywood version of fluff.

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originally posted: 05/10/04 14:53:51
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User Comments

5/24/05 Larry First half much better than the end 4 stars
2/19/05 LilyM Enjoyed the majority of it. Last 20 minutes could have used an improvement. 4 stars
10/13/04 Missy A nice diversion at the end of a long day but not worth adding to personal movie collection 3 stars
5/07/04 jay blum exellant!!! plus jonathon davis rocked his scenes 5 stars
4/30/04 Ray Seeing other movie 2 stars
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  07-May-2004 (R)
  DVD: 17-Aug-2004



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