One of the strangest parts about becoming an adult is understanding that making new friends is no longer something that just happens. Whereas kids can bond simply because they happen to be in the same place at the same time, for adults it can be much more complicated. This is the issue at the heart of Patrick Brice’s The Overnight.
Produced by the Duplass Brothers, the mumblecore influence within is indelible. Even so, the story is wild and crazy enough to merit a Scott Phillips treatment. Luckily, Brice has gone for a more subdued angle, keeping the obtuse zaniness to a more realistic minimum. In fact, The Overnight could be quite easily adapted into a stage play, and probably a rather good one.
The setup is simple. A youngish couple (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) move to LA with their young son. Mom works, Dad is the homemaker, and both are worried that this may be the end of their social lives. While out at the local park, their son takes a liking to another child and the two begin to play. As a result, the boy’s parents (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godrèche) invite the couple over for dinner. It is at this dinner party that secrets are shared, art is created, and everybody must question what truly makes them tick … while imbibing a fair amount of booze and drugs. To say too much would be to spoil it, as the slow clarification of what’s really happening is the key to the fun. This isn’t to say that there’s a twist or anything, but it’s certainly better to enter the theater with a blank slate.
It’s terrifically interesting that the mumblecore movement continues to branch out into its own subgenres, and with The Overnight we see what a mainstream sex comedy would be like if it weren’t so mainstream. We also get to see Adam Scott play the rigid straight man to Schwartzman’s flamboyant ‘Whole Foods Dad.’ This is enough to drive a movie in and of itself, but Schilling and Godrèche share a similar relationship which adds even more depth to the fun. And as the “straight man” sensibilities rub off on the crazies and vice versa, we get a terrifically nuanced film that, unlike more broadly appealing comedies, manages to hide some introspection behind the bongs and genitals, each of which comes in a variety of shocking sizes.
As the definition of “normal relationship” is consistently evolving, it’s great to see a movie embrace the idea that “normal” is a ruse, without casting judgment on anybody.
At a Brisk 80 minutes, The Overnight never wears out its welcome, but it also seems to jump ship right as it gets interesting. Perhaps this was a device to force the audience to do the leg work regarding how they feel about the final sequence, but an extra five minutes in the boat may have offered an opportunity to really challenge viewers. Nonetheless, it’s easy to see why it is structured as such, considering how simple it would have been to cross a line and leave the audience meditating on the wrong things.
If you’re the right kind of couple, the movie would make for a fantastic double date. Or maybe the worst. Regardless, it’s funny and interesting enough to merit seeing. If you can get a good crowd (ours was a mix of people who ‘get it’ and people who ‘don’t want to get it’ and it was PERFECT), go check it out. You will laugh, you will subsequently get uncomfortable, and then you will laugh harder.
Oh, and when the movie ends, go look at the poster again and laugh doubly hard when you realize what you’re seeing.
The Overnight opens today in Philly area theaters.
Author: Dan Scully
Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.