BLOGS

<i>A Good Old Fashioned Orgy</i>: Does It Stack Up to <i>Party Down</i>‘s Group Sex?

If you're going to polarize mainstream audiences by putting the word "orgy" in your film title, you damn well better deliver some serious raunch. Anyone who ventures out to see this Jason Sudeikis-starring end-of-summer flick (penned by veteran comedy writers Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck), can rest assured that there is plenty of it, complete with group sex and nudity. Phew, right? Sitting through this 98-minute indie flick about a group of longtime friends planning the most epic summer blowout of all time -- whose theme I'm sure you can guess by now -- begged the question: Can it really compete with the 30-minute Party Down "Nick DiCintio's Orgy Night" episode? Let's battle it out.

The Mechanics of an Orgy
Party Down: A pretty hilarious concept, tapped first by Party Down (as far as this battle is concerned), is dissecting just how a group of people get together and start getting freaky with each other. Orgy host Nick DiCintio (Thomas Lennon) is fresh out of a divorce and ready to start *really living*. He hires the Party Down caterers to get his guests nice and uninhibited so that they'll enter the "Fuck Room." Problem is, the partygoers couldn't tell by the Eyes Wide Shut reference on the invitations that this was an orgy party and instead thought they were attending some kind of a masquerade bash. Things are extremely awkward until Roman (Martin Starr) jumps in and gets the mood way sexier with darker lighting, better music and body shots -- some tips he's learned not from attending, but from reading about a lot about orgies.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy: Since Eric's (Sudeikis) dad (played by Don Johnson) is selling his swanky Hamptons home, Eric decides that their final gathering needs to be way bigger than their usual Labor Day extravaganza, and that if they want to go out big, group sex is the way to do it. But the challenge is getting the whole gang to agree to participate. While the friends do realize the ridiculousness of the task at hand, they all find a reason why maybe sleeping with each other really is the best way to better their individual lives. Most of the film revolves around battling personal issues, failed attempts to convince the audience how weird this is that all of these lifelong best friends are about to have sex and investigating successful orgies elsewhere.
Winner: It's a tough call, but thanks to less time constraints, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy does allow for more mulling over the subject.

The Sex Factor
Party Down: There's actually no sex -- even off-screen -- in the episode, though there's some softcore nudity from both genders. While this may sound like a critique to orgy enthusiasts, the point of the episode is about how the characters react to the reality of the orgy party rather than the shindig itself.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy: If only the film was able to manage the same. Instead of giving us interesting plot or characters, the comedy is truly focused on the human body and how nasty sex can be. Abundant nudity and even more sex.
Winner: As the saying goes, it's not the size of the ship, it's the motion of the ocean. Party Down knows how to handle the subject and proves that less is more.

The Laughs
Party Down: Even out of context, this episode is hilarious. Between Ron (Ken Marino) moping over his recent breakup, both Roman and Lydia (Megan Mullally) trying to get in on the sexual action, frustrated DiCintio screaming at his guests, a drunken partygoer threatening to ruin the entire night and Henry (Adam Scott) vaguely attempting damage control, the moments of comic genius are abundant.
A Good Old Fashioned Orgy: Unless you like the man-child comedy styling of Tyler Labine, who plays Sudeikis' insufferable wingman, the laughs in this just do not deliver. There's no restraint in the acting, and the film is so weighed down by its attempt at subplot -- mostly in the unsuccessful efforts in trying to sell us Eric and Kelly's (Leslie Bibb) lackluster relationship -- that it's hard to really enjoy the major conflicts. And that's a shame, since the cast is otherwise stacked with people who often crack us up... namely Sudeikis, Martin Starr (yes, he's in both!), Lindsay Sloane, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Will Forte and Lucy Punch.
Winner: Party Down, especially if you're a Starr fan.

Overall Winner
For mindful adults: Party Down.
For sex-obsessed teens who don't care much about plot or logic and just want an end-of-summer romp with a lot of dick jokes: A Good Old Fashioned Orgy.

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