Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck wrote one of my very favorite episodes of one of my very favorite TV shows, "The Larry Sanders Show," and if the only thing they ever produced would be the script for "Putting The 'Gay' Back In Litigation," then I would consider that a more than triumphant filmography.

After several different TV gigs, the guys have made the jump to features with their new ensemble comedy "A Good Old Fashioned Orgy," and while I think the film's a mixed bag, there's enough of it that works that I would recommend it.  More than anything, it suggests that Gregory and Huyck want to do something with some weight, that they aren't content to just go for the joke.  While "Orgy" is a comedy first and foremost, it does offer some genuine insight into the way relationships and friendships change over time, and it's got a big ensemble cast that has great easy chemistry, making it easy to watch even when it doesn't quite work.

I will say, though, that I'm still trying to figure out when the meeting happened where all of Hollywood decided to cast Jason Sudeikis in film after film as The Ultimate Lady's Man.  So far this year, we've seen him in "Horrible Bosses," "Hall Pass," and this, and in all three of the films, he is cast as the guy who screws everything that moves.  While Sudeikis is a perfectly decent-looking guy and he's obviously sharp and funny, it strikes me as a weird niche for him to carve out for himself as an actor, and in this one, it's more pronounced than it's been in either of the other films.  He stars as Eric, the center of the circle of friends who have been partying together since high school.  He's the one whose dad owns the giant beach house where they all escape for these giant themed parties.  Now in their early 30s, the friends have grown used to the idea that they have this escape, this place where they can cut loose, so it comes as a kick to the stomach when Eric's dad (Don Johnson shows up for one scene with his smarm turned up to high) announces that he's selling the house.  Eric realizes an era is coming to an end and tells everyone that he's going to throw one last amazing party at the end of the summer, and he starts working on figuring out a theme for it.

Tyler Labine, who plays exactly the same person in everything he's done so far, plays McCrudden, Eric's best friend, and the rest of the group is filled out with actors like Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Martin Starr, Lindsay Sloane, and Michelle Borth, and they all do solid work here.  The script is smart about the way it draws the friendships between them, the way they suggest history without being obvious or heavy-handed about it.  Kroll is one of those guys I enjoy in everything, and he seems to be particularly good at playing the unexplored depths of tightly-wound modern men.  I wasn't familiar with Borth before this, but she's both striking and strong here, and I like that the film isn't about women looking for boyfriends, and that the entire group of friends is written as equals.  It helps when you have women as interesting as Lake Bell or Lindsay Sloane or Borth, women who don't seem like anyone's plus-one, but interesting in their own rights.  There are a few couples in the film, like Martin Starr and Angela Sarafyan or Will Forte and Lucy Punch, and the film avoids any easy or fake drama about the couples.  In fact, the film avoids so many of the shortcuts that are the typical tricks of the genre that it may strike some people as conflict-free.  I sort of admired the way it pulled that off, and it means that you're allowed to simply watch these characters and like them all without there being any "villain" in the piece.

Even Leslie Bibb, cast here as a local realtor hired to sell the house out from under Eric and his friends, is played as ultimately being on Eric's side in all of this.  So instead of there being some fake dilemma grafted onto the situation, the film just shows this group of friends facing the end of an era, the end of youth in many ways, and that last party ends up becoming a symbol of how they see themselves and their place in the world.  Throwing an orgy isn't really about the sex, but more the adventure, the willingness to still try things that are outside their comfort zones.  And instead of playing coy about the whole thing, the film gets to the party with a good half-hour of film left, and then plays out the whole scenario. 

It is a slight film, and I think people expecting a broad gross-out comedy version of the film will be disappointed.  A title like that sets up certain expectations, and I thought the film I saw was sweeter and sadder in some ways than I expected.  I'm curious to see where Gregory and Huyck go from here based on this one, and I hope it's sooner rather than later for whatever they do next.

"A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy" opens tomorrow.