Release: Friday, June 19, 2015
Written by: Patrick Brice
Directed by: Patrick Brice
This one time, at Jason Schwartzman’s house . . .
No, but seriously. This is no band-camp experience; this is a movie about adults having a sleepover. Wait, that sounds even weirder. Schwartzman’s Kurt is hosting. Well, he and his wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche) are and they want to do everything they can to ensure all guests enjoy themselves. The occasion? Welcoming some new friends to the neighborhood.
Recently relocated couple Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) have been having a hard time finding their crowd in suburban Los Angeles. One afternoon they happen upon Kurt when his son Max and Alex and Emily’s son R.J. become fast friends at a local playground. Kurt is empathetic to the newcomers’ situation and invites them over for dinner and drinks and even offers to help them find ways to branch out in their community. Though a little strange, Kurt seems like a genuine person so the couple accept.
Given its often surprising direction, a title like The Overnight winds up being sufficiently vague, even if there’s barely enough material to justify a full-length feature. Running a scant 80 minutes, young writer-director Patrick Brice’s new film begins as an innocent play-date amongst four thirtysomethings with children. However, it’s after the children have gone to sleep where we really start to reap the benefits of a rather nondescript title: while we stay within the luxurious confines of Kurt and Charlotte’s beautiful, bohemian abode we dive into another world marked by a perverse subversion of social etiquette and/or the complete absence of personal boundaries. After the children have gone to sleep, things get weird.
On the surface, The Overnight asks of whatever small audience it is going to find what lengths would we go to in order to make new friends in a strange city? Where would we draw the line at a party hosted by people we have only known a day or so? Said party involves the usual — drugs and alcohol (of course) — but what if, for the sake of our supposed enjoyment, it took a turn for the surreal? Do we draw the line before or after skinny dipping has been suggested?
Digging beneath that surface, Brice’s sex comedy won’t exactly inspire the most profound conversation, but it goes deeper than just a raunchy sketch. An intimate portrayal of two long-time couples seeking — accidentally or not (certainly not without some cringe-inducing moments) — sexual gratification, The Overnight could inspire some pillow-talk. Finding ways to spice up a couple’s romantic life doesn’t necessarily lend itself to dinner conversation, but that’s why Brice has the kids put to bed and has created a suitably dynamic environment in which such a discussion can take place naturally. Or as naturally as possible with these people involved. Needless to say the affairs become pretty personal; the opening scene has become a great barometer for the party environment into which we step.
Brice’s sophomore effort feels more like a series of personal confessions of people we know caught on film than a comedy performed by seasoned actors. It’s a precariously slight production, liable to be forgotten all too soon. Still, a very game cast help make this series of escalating, bizarre scenarios more pleasurable than it has any right to be.
Recommendation: Suffice it to say this won’t be the most substantial film you’ll see this year — it’ll likely finish second if you manage to limit your movie watching to just two all year — but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. It’s worth a look if you’re a fan of the kinds of shenanigans Adam Scott seems to find himself in a lot. In fact the entire cast is really likable and the situations, though they get weird, are pretty fun to see get played out. The Overnight would probably function better as a short film or even a series of shorts, but as a sex comedy, it finds minor success.
Running Time: 79 mins.
Quoted: “I feel like I just gave birth to myself.”
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