‘Sleeping’ spews cliches before finding its groove

“Sleeping With Other People,” written and directed by Leslye Headland, thinks it’s more than a romantic comedy.

From everything I had read or heard on the film, I was led to believe that this would be more honest, real and gentle than your run-of-the-mill rom-com.

It’s not.

Jake (Jason Sudeikis) is a womanizer with commitment issues who runs into Lainey (Alison Brie) at a sex addiction meeting. It so happens that Lainey is the very girl that Jake lost his virginity to in college.

The two begin a relationship as friends, even though it is clearly more than that. They don’t have sex with each other; they merely hang out and do normal couple-y things.

It’s basically a friends-with-benefits situation – only the exact opposite. An abstinent relationship.

Early on, Jake and Lainey’s banter feels scripted, which is always the worst type of banter. It flows unnaturally.

Sitting in the theatre, the image of someone sitting in a room somewhere writing this dialogue popped into my head. I’ve never experienced that feeling before.

The stuff that Jake spews in an attempt to sound honestly blunt sounds like some crap I’d say at 15 years old, desperately trying to impress a girl by coming off as quirky, sexual and intimate.

I find the same problem in “Sleeping With Other People” that I do in “Seinfeld.” The characters in both this film and that show speak in a such a way that begs the audience to assume them as common middle class folk; as a surrogate for the audience, more or less.

This tricks the audience into the “realization” that this dialogue, even if heightened, is speaking truth on the human condition, even when it isn’t.

The film hits every beat and cliché that you would expect. It wants to be edgy, but its corners are nothing but soft and round.

And then David Bowie’s “Modern Love” fills the soundtrack during a dancing montage at a five-year-old’s birthday party.

I’ll be hard-pressed to find a context in which that song isn’t enjoyable. The entire sequence wore me down. I began accepting the rom-com tropes, and thus began enjoying the entire film.

The annoying aspects of Jake and Lainey’s relationship start to become adorable.

Sudeikis, who I wanted to knock out for the first 45 minutes of the film, turns on his charm. Maybe it was always there and I needed David Bowie to help me realize it.

Adam Scott gives a very solid performance as Matthew, a married man who is the cause of Lainey’s sex addiction. In a role that should handcuff him from lack of humor, Scott is more than effective. He proves himself not just a niche comedic actor.

Jason Mantzoukas (known as the insane, over-the-top Rafi in TV’s “The League”) pops up as Xander, Jake’s longtime best friend and current business partner. He’s also more refrained than usual, but he’s equally as efficient and has some of the film’s best lines.

Once “Sleeping With Other People” turns the corner, it really finds a groove. It handles the sexual situation, or lack thereof, between Jake and Lainey surprisingly tastefully, while refraining from an easy payoff.

The film’s hot streak culminates in a wonderfully shot fistfight over a Sunday brunch, which I’ll try not to spoil. It’s beautifully realized, while simultaneously amusing, dramatic and heartfelt. It’s one of the better cinematic moments of 2015.

Yet despite its desperate effort at a comeback, “Sleeping With Other People” never quite gets over the hump. It loses itself in disproportion instead of accepting its ultimate destiny: just a pretty solid romantic comedy.