Are We Doing This?
May 21, 2023
Owen Frost, Jessica Lundholm, Liam Harkins
A comedy short about a new couple seemingly thrust unwittingly into a sex party, Are We Doing This? unfortunately is no orgy of laughs. This brand of comedy may win over the BBC three crowd, but a lack of real wit makes it ultimately forgettable.
Mia (Jessica Lundholm) and Jeff (Owen Frost) are a new couple attending a party thrown by Mia’s boss Victoria (Claire Johnson). Mia sees the party as a chance to leave a good impression that might secure her a promotion. But upon arrival, they are greeted by a bowl of keys, a blow-up doll, and their ‘partners’ for the evening. The pair are faced with learning much more about each other than they bargained for, though something about the party suggests not is all as it seems…
Are We Doing This? is a classic redirection comedy – driven by a premise that feels about as old as the genre itself. Viewers will be able to map out the plot blindfolded, though lack of originality is not always a millstone for such films if the jokes land. Unfortunately, there are more misses than hits here, more polite chuckles than guffaws. It at least manages to be sex-positive without being puerile, and innuendo thankfully never gets too Carry On. But the plot twist that the gags encircle, that ought to be the film’s moment of maximum hilarity, is ultimately undercut by the overall lack of shame, embarrassment or awkwardness of the two protagonists. Mia and Jeff shrug off what should be a mortifying scenario with the effusiveness of a Marvel character, and never seem challenged or tested by their situations, or the situations their partner may be in. Without any obstacles to overcome or truths to confront about themselves, it’s difficult for viewers to both become invested in the characters and the relationship, or find real humour in their predicament.
The gags themselves are too direct – to the point audiences will lose any sense that these are real people in a real situation. Mia’s party partner Dominic (Joseph Emms) would require the patience of a saint not to query why someone he has just met is so eager to discuss places she has had sex with him. Meanwhile Jeff’s confusion at why his ‘best moves’ aren’t working makes little sense considering the massage he had just been receiving from Owen (Liam Harkins) – who seems to have made the same mistake as the couple until it stops being convenient for the story. And word to filmmakers – the term ‘Butt-stuff’ stops being funny in of itself around the time you turn 16 (my own snicker to myself upon typing it out just now notwithstanding).
Jessica Lundholm and Owen Frost do convincingly portray the awkwardness of a newer couple exploring each other’s personalities and boundaries, though neither demonstrate particularly effective comic timing – which may be as much a consequence of poor writing as their acting ability. The film’s funniest moments ultimately come courtesy of editing rather than the script or line delivery.
It’s strangely impressive (though not complimentary…) that a film about sex parties is so inoffensively forgettable. Underdeveloped characters, jokes and concepts make Are We Doing This? as limp as… well, you get the gist. In answer to that title: No, we’re not.