Must have been nearly 10 years ago when I stumbled across a nifty little comedy in a far corner of a forgotten video store and happened to read the back of the box. It was a little-known low-budget comedy called “Cold Blooded” starring Jason Priestly as a strange, unmotivated low-level employee of a bookie who gets promoted to hit-man and finds that he’s really really good at it. It was directed by a fellow named Wally Wolodarsky, one of the scary-talented writers behind “The Simpsons,” and despite the smallness of the production, it delivered big on the laughs. A few years later he directed (but did not write) Sorority Boys which I did not see and cannot comment on, but this Friday brings his third feature film to theaters: “Seeing Other People,” written by Wolodarsky and his wife Maya Forbes and directed by Wolodarsky. Another astute independent comedy shot on a small budget and boasting high laugh-per-minute ratio. But these are good laughs, not your average sitcom laughs from throwaway jokes that you forget by the time you hit delete on your Tivo.
Jay Mohr and Juilanne Nicholson star as a betrothed couple who’s relationship is put to the test after Alice (Nicholson) sees a friend having anonymous sex with someone in her sister’s bedroom at her own engagement party. Alice begins to think about all the random sexual encounters that she never had and now will never have as the finality of marriage approaches. She proposes that she and Ed (Mohr) are mature enough to be able to “see” other people, that is, have sex, until they get married. Now, anyone who’s ever been in a relationship for more than 12 minutes knows that that is not the soundest of ideas, but Alice is very persuasive and Ed reluctantly agrees, thinking that she will never go through with it—and is shocked when she actually does. Ed uses his minor celebrity status as a television writer to troll for babes and does quite well, while Alice immediately becomes tied up with one particular guy, going against her own rules. When they find themselves spending more time with other people things start to get ugly. Andy Richter of Conan O’Brien fame and Bryan Cranston (“Malcolm in the Middle”) also score major points from the bench on this one (forgive the basketball metaphor…it’s playoff time).
Writers Wolodarski and Forbes have some heavy comedy-cred–Wolodarsky with “The Simpsons” and Forbes with “The Larry Sanders Show”–and it’s a credit to that talent that this film, with it’s completely implausible plot, never loses the audience, delving cleverly into male and female nature for some good belly laughs and, dare I say it, some thought-provoking insights as well. There are also more than a few quotable lines–another indicator of a movie that is destined to have a long shelf life. I’m hoping for this film to achieve success for purely selfish reasons: I want more Wolodarsky films!