While it may not seem true, adults can have just as much difficulty in socializing as children. Even with life experience, not everybody has the outgoing personality to meet strangers and make friends, which is largely the basis of writer/director Patrick Brice's The Overnight. There are plenty of pros and cons to being a parent, but using one's children to make friends with other parents can certainly be viewed as an advantage. This is very much what occurs in Brice's comedy, although it doesn't take very long for this supposed playdate to turn into something completely unexpected for the couple.
Alex (Adam Scott), Emily (Taylor Schilling), and their son, RJ (R.J. Hermes) are new to Los Angeles. After having difficulty socializing, they find themselves in a nearby park where they meet the mysterious Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), and their son, Max (Max Moritt). When invited for a family "playdate," they find that the night continues to be a lot more than they bargained for.
Now that the happy couple has moved to Los Angeles, they see a bright new future. However, Alex and Emily have some individual issues that are contributing to marital problems, although neither one of them is willing to address them. The opening scene features them having passionless sex, only to be walked in on by their young son. Emily is incredibly uptight and stressed with balancing work and spending time with the family, while Alex is a stay-at-home father who is insecure about the underwhelming size of his genitals. These are details that have clearly impacted their relationship for quite some time, but neither one of them feels comfortable discussing such topics. However, that all changes when they meet the incredibly self-confident and open couple, Charlotte and Kurt. While the audience is just as much in the dark about them as Emily and Alex are, it doesn't take too long to predict what their intentions are. However, this doesn't ruin the fun one bit, as the contrast between the two couples works tremendously well in providing interesting characters and plot progressions.
To put it simply, The Overnight is absolutely hilarious. There are some good laughs to be found in Brice's dialogue, but it's the screenplay's use of situations that make it so humorous. The night only continues to get stranger as the two couples begin drinking alcohol and eventually smoking weed. Alex and Emily assume that this is simply Los Angeles culture, so they go along with it, but ultimately find themselves in a situation that makes them tremendously uncomfortable. However, each of them reacts differently to situations, causing them to view their marriage from a different perspective. Even once the secret is out of the bag, Brice doesn't stop there. A surprising tension still continues to escalate up until a point where audiences will find themselves hysterically laughing, yet entirely captivated by the ongoings of what just might be one of the strangest, but funniest films about marriage out there.
The Overnight has a superbly smooth sense of pacing that makes the 80 minute running time feel more like 45 minutes. However, humor isn't Brice's only intention, as these are characters that we genuinely come to care for. Actual change occurs within these roles over the course of the feature's duration. Those who are sick of the marriage comedies out there will find Brice's film to be a refreshing take on a sub-genre that usually isn't very effective. However, he has crafted something that proves to be both extremely funny and emotionally worthwhile. If anything, the film could have benefited from some extra material towards the end in order to provide a proper sendoff after spending the entire night with the two couples. The Overnight feels like it ends out of nowhere. Brice's screenplay provides closure, but I could have spent a bit more time with this film's charm.
The cast is undoubtedly what will draw audiences in, as each member of the married couples is a recognizable face. Adam Scott is quite funny as Alex. Once the big secret is revealed, Scott truly shines with his excellent comedic timing. He does a wonderful job providing this character with an abundance of personality. Orange Is the New Black's Taylor Schilling also successfully delivers upon the laughs, but in the role of Emily. However, if you've seen her Netflix Original program, then you know that her comedy is delivered through facial expressions. This proves to hold true in The Overnight, as her reactions to the crazy revelations are absolutely priceless. Jason Schwartzman actually delivers the most memorable performance out of the bunch as Kurt. The role is so incredibly eccentric, and Schwartzman is what makes him so uproariously funny. Judith Godrèche rounds out the cast in the role of Charlotte, who has some particularly well-crafted moments with Schilling in what can best be described as creepy, yet over-the-top and ridiculous. This is an outstanding cast.
Comedy can be a tricky genre to tackle, but writer/director Patrick Brice has more than succeeded. There are an abundance of laughs to be had in his newest film, but it's his screenplay that truly makes this feature memorable. The situations that unfold are absolutely ridiculous, but make for a massive amount of fun. They're made only better by the interactions created by this wonderful cast. It's clear that they had an absolute blast making this film, and these feelings prove to be contagious. However, the film has more than some funny moments, but also provides some genuine moments of drama that feel entirely genuine. The Overnight is an absolutely hilarious cinematic gem. Highly recommended!
The Overnight played at SXSW Film Festival 2015 on March 14th, March 18th, and March 19th.