Film Review: Love & Air SexA smutty-minded rom-com that fails to gussy up its bland central romance with endless dirty talk by both men and women, and wannabe-scandalous scenarios set at the Air Sex championships.
Clinging to fantasies about sex turns out to be far less constructive and pleasurable than actually having some in Love & Air Sex, a tedious rom-com about two couples consumed with imagining past passions. Still smarting over his break-up months earlier with Cathy (Ashley Bell) when she moved to New York City for medical school, Stan (Michael Stahl-David) sees on Facebook that she’s going to Austin, Texas—where they once both lived—and impulsively follows her there, all under the guise of reconnecting with best friend Jeff (Zach Cregger), who’s on the outs with heavy-metal girlfriend Kara (Sara Paxton).
Once in Austin, Kara tries to get Cathy laid and Jeff introduces Stan to Air Sex competitions, in which dorky clowns like himself pantomime filthy bedroom maneuvers on stage at the city’s legendary Alamo Drafthouse – acts of phony lovemaking that the film equates with Cathy and Jeff’s shared habit of thinking about their own former coitus while pleasuring themselves.
Director Bryan Poyser’s visually flat, static film has been constructed as a series of neatly arranged contrivances, so that Stan and Cathy—kept apart by their friends, who also still passive-aggressively pine for each other—are soon paired off with prospective new lovers in Tim (Justin Arnold) and Haley (Addison Timlin). Amidst those budding romances, Love & Air Sex indulges in a nearly endless stream of dirty talk, sex gags, and other faux-titillating hijinks involving photos of gigantic genitalia, all of which comes across as the desperate flailing of a film that has no clue about real romance, much less the thorny, unpleasant process of getting over a long-term relationship.
That Kara is as uninhibited and crass as Jeff certainly reflects a certain strain of gender equality, but Poyser (working from a script co-written with David DeGrow Shotwell and Steven Walters) has nothing to say about 21st-century attitudes about love and sex; rather, he’s mostly fixated on having the game Paxton act as absurdly lewd and crude as her counterpart Cregger, who resembles a less charming and witty Ryan Reynolds. Love & Air Sex spends as much time with these two supporting characters as it does its leads, in part because it finds their smuttiness more amusing than the story’s central amorous dynamic, but also because Stahl-David and Bell are decidedly dull in parts that ask them to do little more than act flustered around their filthy friends and mopey when thinking about each other.
Despite the vital role texting plays in Stan and Cathy’s tale, the film largely ignores any commentary on the way technology can alternately facilitate and hinder affairs of the heart. Instead, its primary focus eventually comes to be will-they-or-won’t-they melodrama devoid of urgency. Stan and Cathy are such blandly vanilla protagonists that Love & Air Sex never elicits any serious rooting interest in their fate as a couple—a failing that’s compounded by the excessive and unwarranted attention paid to the Air Sex championships, which in their attempts to be outrageous are so dimly juvenile and severely unfunny they prove to be a stain upon the good name of the iconic Alamo Drafthouse.