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Review: Hilarious ‘How to Plan an Orgy’ has surprising heart

“How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town.”
Jewel Staite with Noah Cappe in the movie “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town.”
(Gravitas Ventures)

“How to Plan An Orgy In A Small Town,” you ask? It starts with a dare -- a dare fueled by a long-standing high school rivalry. After a particularly humiliating teenage sexual experience, and subsequent slut-shaming, Cassie Cranston (Jewel Staite) left home in a huff, streaking topless down Main Street and penning a fiery column about the closed-minded views of her small hometown, Beaver’s Ridge.

When her mother dies, Cassie returns home as a big-city sex columnist and winds up in a sexual throwdown with rival Heather (Lauren Lee Smith) — who happens to be married to Cassie’s high school boyfriend — daring her to prove the locals are not a bunch of prudes and have an orgy.

The ways in which their group of friends agree to participate is a bit facile, but ulterior motives abound, including for Cassie, who’s searching for a sexy book pitch. What no one expects is that the awkwardness of politely navigating the situation will lead to an opening of communication, allowing the friends to finally state what it is that they want, confessing crushes, fetishes, longstanding resentments, and more. It’s also hilarious, and though “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town” is decidedly more silly than sexy, it does go to surprising and bold places.

The film ends up as a heartwarmingly raunchy celebration of unabashed and diverse sexuality without shame or hang ups. And somewhere along the way, writer-director Jeremy LaLonde manages to squeeze in some romance too, turning this sex comedy into a rom-com.

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‘How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes

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Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills


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