Like a pile of mashed potatoes, "Sleeping With Other People" is a comforting mound of creamy whiteness, reassuring the viewer that no matter how much sociological broccoli one is compelled to fork through, the outcome of the romantic comedy will always be the same. Director Leslye Headland has some ideas -- about platonic friendships between men and women, and the hazards of assuming an analytical regard for the irrational madness of sexual attraction -- but those ideas are never quite explored, nor are her characters' inner lives. Of course, never is it contemplated -- heaven forbid -- that two attractive lead characters won't somehow get it together.
Jake (Jason Sudeikis) is a techie-startup personage as well as a serial philanderer; Lainey (Alison Brie of "Mad Men") is a kindergarten teacher who can't get over her miserable gynecologist boyfriend (Adam Scott, wearing a dubious mustache that -- especially on the 19th century stage -- would have marked him as the villain). Jake and Lainey lost their virginity to each back in college, but now it's much later, rows have been hoed, and they reunite at a meeting for sex addicts. The two decide to give each other emotional support -- as friends -- in an effort to avoid sex. While, of course, falling in love.
What the movie really needs to complete its "When Harry Met Sally" homage is a faux-orgasmic diner scene, but nothing that raucous ever occurs in what is, again, a slickly executed and reassuring plateful of mush that needs some commercials and a laugh track to fully realize its potential. As what? Not quite sure. And neither is director Headland.