Love & Air Sex’s wit is a very drawn-out indie version of the kind of humor we’ve come to expect from films starring Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, and Seann William Scott. But there’s a twist. The gross-out comedy is never really seen, but mimed. It’s in the air. When Stan (Michael Stahl-David), a goody-goody New Yorker, flies to Austin on a whim hoping to run into his ex-girlfriend, he ends up getting involved in the “air sex” scene. Stan’s best friend, Jeff (Zach Cregger), is highly involved in this club trend with an only-in-this-movie cult following, which consists of on-stage competitions of professionals and amateurs performing hardcore sex acts with an invisible partner—usually presumed to be a submissive female, of course—and with the help of an MC and a frat-like mob of audience members shouting, “You must fuck the air! You must fuck the air!”
Whatever predictable plot Love & Air Sex tries to unfold never lives up to the excitement of its conceptual gimmick. That is, watching men, and sometimes women, imitate the most unorthodox sex positions in highly expressive ways, from rimming to entering a vagina with one’s entire body. A sequence when Jeff first introduces Stan to the art of air sex sticks out as particularly revealing as it literalizes the notion that sexual partners are interchangeable. A group of straight men give Stan a lesson on how to mime sex with the air and what place the activity occupies in their strategy to, as they would certainly say it themselves, get pussy. From the beginning we get that air sex is part of a game these men play to objectify and diss the women who have rejected them, or to try to entice new ones, “because people always want what they can’t have.”
Like clownish high schoolers trying to score girls as a tribe, they purposefully act rude to women and “guard” their penises the same way women apparently guard their vaginas. Sometimes they score, and sometimes they get a taste of their own poison, when the girls beat them at their own game both on and off stage. Either way, hilarity doesn’t ensue. The film proceeds to divide these twentysomethings—these boy-men and the women they hunt—into either prudes or sluts, trying too hard to make some of its characters edgy by having them say extreme vulgarities at every turn before quickly cutting to the shocked faces of the romantic characters who’d rather watch the sexist spectacle than perform it. As though that somehow makes their hands less bloody.