"Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still."
- Robert Sternberg
What really makes most good romantic comedies work is the actors. Plots are practically interchangeable in the genre and there aren't many new themes or ideas, either. But if the leads have a good chemistry and the supporting characters are interesting and funny, the film will work.
As the leading male in Seeing Other People, Mohr is fine as Ed, giving enough of an edge to be funny. But there is no question this is Julianne Nicholson's film. She is funny, sweet, charming and filled with this incredible energy. Her performance takes the film from a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy to a truly funny, sometimes touching film.
Ed (Mohr) and Alice (Nicholson) are the kind of couple that stays in on Saturday nights. They play Scrabble. He picks out stamps based on what he thinks she'd like. They are, in every way, in love. But she's got one nagging doubt – she's only had sex with three other "men" – one actually being a woman. So, she tells Ed that she wants to have some meaningless sex before their marriage. Hilarity ensues.
So, what makes Alice so loveable? It's not really the script; she's the one who pushes the clearly doomed sex plan. It's not any of the individual gags throughout; there's not a big difference between the set pieces in Seeing Other People and in lesser films. But Nicholson has this tremendous energy, this great spirit that takes over early on in the film. Her innocence is the best trait for Alice.
Josh Charles, Andy Richter, Bryan Cranston and Lauren Graham are also funny in supporting roles. Also, for those with similar taste in women singers as mine, don't blink during the yoga scene for a six-second appearance from Liz Phair.
Seeing Other People is not without flaws, though. The entire film feels very episodic, as if there are no plot points, just encounters. Some of the jokes are the ultimate of cliché (cheating spouses pushing others out windows when significant others come home, for instance).
Seeing Other People is presented in anamorphic widescreen. The colors seem dull, but the rest of the transfer is acceptable.
A Dolby 2.0 track is provided. The dialogue stands out throughout the disc, but the background sounds and music sound very muddy. Overall, a little disappointing, especially considering Sundance's solid track record in terms of technical achievement.
We start with a full-length commentary by director/writer Wally Wolodarsky and writer Maya Forbes. The married couple starts off by pointing out that the film was not based on their life together, so that's a good sign. What's most refreshing about the track is how Wolodarsky is willing to own up to mistakes he made in the film (the early drop-in jokes, for instance, about Alice's former lovers). They both talk about the restraints of writing and directing on a low budget, as well.
There are also two minutes of deleted scenes, mainly has to do with Carl's work as a musician. They were deleted with good reason, but Richter does some great work.
The disc includes a behind-the-scenes featurette on the film. And by "behind-the-scenes featurette," I mean, "digital press kit cotton candy." Trailers for other Sundance films (including Dopamine and Melvin Goes to Dinner, - both films that come Highly Recommended by DVDTalk reviewers) round out the extras.
Without Nicholson (or, more accurately, someone other than Nicholson in the role of "Alice"), Seeing Other People would look a lot like other romantic comedies on the market. But Nicholson, who won "Best Actress" at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival for her performance here, helps elevate the film into something seriously worth seeing.