Thursday, July 2, 2015

Film review: "The Overnight"

"The Overnight" is more an exercise in filmmaking than a fully realized feature, essentially a promising sketch stretched out to 79 minutes. But it's well-done and quite engaging, alternating between goofiness and thoughtfulness with barely any seams showing between the transitions.

It stars Adam Scott, who you probably know from TV's "Parks and Recreations," and Taylor Schilling, who you probably know from "Orange is the New Black," a streaming television show from Netflix. They play Alex and Emily, respectively, a married couple who have just moved to Los Angeles from somewhere cold and boring, and get invited over by another family they've just met for a playdate between their boys.

Alex is a stay-at-home dad and Emily the breadwinner; she's outgoing and he struggles to engage with his new environment. “Am I supposed to just ask other grown-up persons if they want to be friends?” he implores.

The other marrieds, Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godréche), are blend of every cliché about over-involved southern California types. They have lots of money but don't appear to work much; he paints and she acts, both itinerantly; they've got a New Age-y vibe and burn incense to get their kid to sleep.

But they seem amiable enough -- too amiable, actually.

After the boys are slumbering, the grownups break out the liquor and the weed, things get pretty loose, then things get a little weird. Then a lot weird. Sexual hang-ups get exposed, buried desires are unearthed, and we're all in for a bumpy night.

Writer/director Patrick Brice, in his second feature film, shows keen insight for the suffocating life of married people with small kids -- the daily squabbles about unimportant stuff, the growing resentments that get stuffed under the furniture for the sake of familial bliss, or at least the appearance of it.

(In one naughty true-to-life bit, the opening scene has Emily/Alex trying to squeeze in a little amorous time in the morning before their son wakes up. "There's still time for me!" Alex insists, urgently, while trying to complete the task at hand, urgently.)

"The Overnight" is a bit sitcom-y and hammy at times, especially the figure of Kurt, whom Schwartzman plays with a sort of graceful ease in his sliminess. He's a petty, selfish man who's convinced the world -- and himself -- that he's actually a great guy, and spends his life playing that role.

Still, it's a funny, smart and randy flick. And I do mean randy. There's quite a bit of nudity, mostly male. If you're a big Adam Scott fan, let's just say that prosthetics played a role in portraying his character's, uh, deficiencies. Ditto for Schwartzman, but in reverse.

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