Film Review: 10 Rules for Sleeping Around

As dimwittedly obvious as its title, can it even be called a comedy if there are no laughs?

Sex comedies would seem to be an easy natural for the screen, especially in this anything goes/Internet-rampant age, and lord knows there have been many attempts. The good ones—like the still terrific Shampoo, and maybe bits and pieces of the American Pie series—remain as scarce as hen's teeth, however, for in this country, still so weirdly puritanical as well as ever-prurient, the right balance of salaciousness and wit too often tumbles into mere vulgarity and true offensiveness. Unfortunately, 10 Rules for Sleeping Around is but one more gross American schlock-fest which commits the cardinal and all too common sin of being so abysmally conceived and handled that it isn't even sexy.

The film centers around two friendly couples: Ben (Chris Marquette) and Kate (Tammin Sursock), who are about to be wed, and married Vince (Jesse Bradford) and Cameron (Virginia Williams), who tell them that their open relationship is the glue which holds them together. Those titular rules are key, however, and they include everything from "no blood relatives" to that ultimate no-no, saying "I love you" to a lover. The more conservative Ben and Kate are at first shocked and then very curious and they get the chance—sort of—to test the steamy waters during a Hamptons getaway, culminating in a wild party thrown by media magnate Jeff Field (Michael McKean), whom Ben and Vince are trying to interest in their e-publishing business.

Writer-director Leslie Greif desperately throws everything into his would-be hilarious mix, from a pair of Jersey Shore bimbos who seemingly just want to catch herpes from anyone, anywhere, to a hapless younger, would-be inamorato for Cameron who, caught in flagrante delicto, spends the entire film naked and often licked by a horny dog, to, most groan-inducingly, a male designer who pretends to be gay (a noxious device that was hoary in The Gay Deceivers, back in 1969). It's exhausting to watch and entirely numbing to the brain and, in the bad old Hollywood cop-out tradition tiresomely familiar from Doris Day epics and the like, reveals that Cameron is a good girl after all, only pretending to be slutty and playing along with her man's needs. Yes, the film manages—surprise!—to be offensive to women as well as every type of sexuality.

Poor Jesse Bradford has been one of the screen's most appealing juveniles for ages, and now as an adult acquits himself professionally enough and somehow emerges with dignity. Chris Marquette, looking somewhat like Miles Teller's brother, is innocuous, as are the interchangeably pert—although blonde and brunette—Sursock and Williams. But Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Reno 911”) is an always Joan Blondell-like, welcome sexy comic presence, and shows more flair than anyone else in the cast, even playing a snippy British authoress.

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