The Overnight

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Patrick Brice

Starring

Adam Scott Jason Schwartzman Taylor Schilling

Anticipation.

You had us at “Jason Schwartzman sex comedy”.

Enjoyment.

Frisky and sharply scripted.

In Retrospect.

Fun while it lasts but doesn’t fully seduce.

A bawdy social comedy which says that it’s not the size that matters, but what you do with it that counts.

We all know that it’s not possible for any one person to have it all, but that doesn’t stop us from being envious of those who appear to do so. A film about learning to accept the hand you’ve been dealt that says it’s perfectly natural to want what you can’t have, The Overnight is writer/director Patrick Brice’s playful peek into the psyche of that terminally underrepresented social group: the white lower-middle class American thirtysomething couple.

We’re in Los Angeles, a land of hard bodies and pool party liaisons that’s as familiar to moviegoers as it is alien to Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling), who’ve recently relocated from Seattle. One morning at the local park with their infant son RJ, Alex and Emily meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), a charismatic yuppie in a silly hat whose son is engaged in some sandpit pleasantries with RJ. After some brief smalltalk, Kurt somewhat insistently invites the entire family over for a playdate.

Alex and Emily have been meaning to get out and meet new people and this seems as good an opportunity as any to get a flavour for the neighbourhood, so they gladly take Kurt up on his offer. On first impression, Kurt’s is a #blessed existence – he’s married to a beguiling, free-spirited French woman named Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), lives in a huge house and has an absolutely enormous… well, we’ll come onto that shortly.

Early on during what turns out to be a long, liberating evening, Alex and Emily put RJ and their inhibitions to bed in a bid to show that their joie de vivre is as intense as when they first got together. They may be sprogged-up and under a fair amount of financial strain, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be sexy and spontaneous (just maybe not that sexy and spontaneous). As the couples swap best parenting practices and mull over the more esoteric applications of breastfeeding – a steady flow of liquor providing the necessary social lubricant – Kurt and Charlotte decide to move the party outside where a palpable sexual frisson takes hold.

As marriage-satirising situational comedies go, The Overnight is more acutely observed than anything we’ve seen since Judd Apatow’s superlative 2013 film This is 40. That’s not to say it’s especially profound in its deconstruction of 21st century adult relationships, more that Brice’s script is tighter than your average indie rom-com (which admittedly isn’t saying much). Yet amid all the intoxicated epiphanies, oversharing and resolution making, by far the biggest revelation arrives in the form of Jason Schwartzman’s eye-watering prosthetic member, which exposes the film’s curious preoccupation with an exclusively male obsession while providing a quirky conversation starter.

The problem for anyone who’s ever witnessed someone bring a bratwurst to a cocktail sausage party is that, in this instance, the ensuing conversation pans out pretty much as you’d expect. There are plenty of cathartic home truths here and no shortage of amusing moments, but it’s hardly subversive filmmaking. By daybreak it’s clear that a genuine, lasting bond has been formed between these four individuals. It’s a shame that Brice’s film fails to establish a similarly meaningful connection with its audience.

Published 25 Jun 2015

Tags: Jason Schwartzman Taylor Schilling

Anticipation.

You had us at “Jason Schwartzman sex comedy”.

Enjoyment.

Frisky and sharply scripted.

In Retrospect.

Fun while it lasts but doesn’t fully seduce.

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