I remember when I was at SXSW 2013 I was intrigued by Bryan Poyser’s comedy Love & Air Sex because, well, when do you really ever see people perform competitive air sex in movies, let alone for an extended period of time in real life. I saw a ton of humor in the subject but didn’t get a chance to see it while I was in Austin. Fast forward to nearly a year later and Poyser’s film is finally getting a theatrical and VOD release thanks to the folks over at Tribeca Film. After checking out the film all I can say is that I left emotionally torn, both happy and disappointed, and I hate that feeling when the overall picture was mediocre at best.
Depressed over the breakup with his longtime girlfriend Cindy (Ashley Bell), Stan (Michael Stahl-David) discovers that she is headed to Austin to visit one of their mutual friends and decides to travel to Austin in hopes of “accidentally” running into her while saying that he’s visiting one of his best friends, Jeff (Zach Cregger) as a cover-up. Upon arrival he sees Kara (Sara Paxton), the friend Cindy is visiting and the woman who is having a brutal breakup with Jeff, who informs him that Cindy isn’t ready to see him yet and that he should not make any attempt to see her at all otherwise she’ll kill him.
Jeff and Kara give basically the same advice Cindy and Stan, they both should go out, have fun and get laid. While Cindy meets a nice southern gentleman, Jeff takes Stan out to the Air Sex World Championships where he plans on not only introducing Stan to some ladies, but where he is also competing for a shot at Air Sex gold, the only thing keeping his mind off of his former lover, sort of.
For a movie called Love & Air Sex the movie is heavily skewed towards the love side and the first two scenes that feature air sex provide almost no comic relief to the depressing and unadventurous nature of Stan’s character. In fact, there are only a couple of funny moments throughout the entire film which produce either a one-off “ha!” laugh or a slight giggle, which is extremely surprising since one would imagine that air sex alone would generate a few good bits here and there. I was very annoyed by this and thought the execution could have been so much better on the comedic front.
While the lack of humor surprised me, the romantic story was pretty good even if the amateur performances (excluding Sara Paxton and Ashley Bell) took away from the quality of it. Love & Air Sex is very much an indie romantic comedy and, for a majority of the film it plays out very much like your standard romance. But then the screenwriters throw an unexpected curveball, avoiding all the standard romantic clichés and allowing you to finish the film with a smile on your face, at least a brief one, because it ended up not being the predicable storyline we’ve come to expect from every film with a romantic plot such as this.
My favorite part of the film had nothing to do with any of the lead characters but rather a girl that Stan meets while at the Air Sex competition. He meets a girl named Hayley (played by Addison Timlin who I think gives a very flat, cheesy and awkwardly forced performance in most of her roles), who is in Austin for a music gig but since she plays the cello and sings at the same time she knows she’ll be performing for an empty bar. When Stan attends her show, the song she sings is fantastic and one that I’d want on my iPod. I’d watch that scene over and over if I could, the music was so good!
There was a lot of potential for Love & Air Sex to be hilarious and something different for audiences to watch but unfortunately the results proved otherwise. It’s saying something when the best part of a comedy is a brief musical performance that isn’t funny at all but rather a foreshadowing and romantic moment. I give props to the screenwriters for a fun romantic tale but think the cast and writers could have done a lot more with generating laughs. Love & Air Sex is definitely a VOD title but one I’d recommend waiting to see until it hits Netflix.
Rating: A lackluster comedy with a good romantic payoff (5/10)