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'Love and Air Sex' review: Unfortunately, in that order

** (out of four)

Competitive air sex would seem to have infinite dramatic possibilities. After all, it's less like air guitar and more like mimes decided they're tired of being trapped in boxes and elected to tell the dirtiest X-rated stories imaginable. Contestants assign themselves crass names like Hugh G. Rection and engage in depraved performance art (synced to music!) unlikely to appear in any accredited gallery or medium-clean sidewalk.

Opening at Facets on Friday, the same night as the Air Sex World Championships at Abbey Pub, "Love and Air Sex" demonstrates that you can, in fact, make a relatively dull movie about this very non-dull subject. Chicago native Michael Stahl-David ("Cloverfield") stars as Stan, who flies back to Austin, Texas, from L.A. when he discovers his ex, Cathy (Ashley Bell of "The Last Exorcism"), is heading down there too. He finds that not only has his estranged BFF, Jeff (Zach Cregger of "The Whitest Kids U'Know"), split from Cathy's now-promiscuous BFF, Kara (Sara Paxton of "The Innkeepers"), but Jeff also is about to compete in the championship of Air Sex, where the host solicits participants by chanting, "You must [bleep] the air!"

Had "Love and Air Sex" been revised into "Air Sex and Love," director/co-writer Bryan Poyser might have explored how people who devote time and brainpower to choreographing vivid simulations of hard-core action blend their personal lives with their on-stage antics. Instead, the film mostly is a night of average shenanigans that makes a few stops at sweet on the ultimate journey to innocuous. It's kinda cute seeing Stan flirt-texting with cellist/singer Haley (Addison Timlin) -- just the kind of idealized cutie who must arrive to keep the story going -- and all the excited teasing and apologetic retractions that come along with it.

But the mundane waffling about whether the couples will get back together generates less of an impression than the onslaught of lame gags about genitalia. The people acting out sex look like geniuses compared to the ones talking about it.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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