“I want to stay here forever.”
While sitting through The Overnight, squirming in my seat with a hand often covering my mouth, I felt a looming sense of dread. Every little this-or-that situation edges so close to the edge of discomfort that you fear the fall…the letdown. That never happens. The movie’s short, 84 minutes to be exact (the proper length for a comedy). And like its new to the neighborhood guests in the story, it never overstays its welcome. I’m not so sure it delivers the personal reflection and sexually explorative message that it tries to because of the time restraints. But what The Overnight can say for itself is that it’s fun, hilarious, and incredibly inventive. This is one of the best comedies you can see this year. I mean, you can’t go wrong with a movie that says, “I feel like I just gave birth to myself.”
Recently transplanted from Seattle to LA, Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are outsiders. She works, he stays home with their little boy. They’re also friendless, unable to work their way into the themed birthday party social circles or stroller pushing cliques. But as fate would have it, their luck changes at the park, a universal (or at least American) symbol for community. Oozing positive vibes, Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) strikes up conversation with the lonesome couple. His place, pizza night, bring the kid along. They agree, because like most would when in search of friendship, you’ll take just about anyone who will have you. Worst case scenario? Dinner and scram. Best? They finally find some pals.
I so badly want to delve deeper into the story, to give details and background information. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more spoiler free I know this cries out to be. What makes this movie so special and so funny are the surprises. Writer/Director Patrick Brice released the film Creep earlier this year, and comparing that to The Overnight is like comparing night to day. Creep just doesn’t really work because it plays right into our hands. I knew how it would end a mere 10 minutes in. This time around though, the scenarios are all so well-designed, so comfortably uncomfortable, that you never know what’s going to hit you. Brice presents us with possible doors to open, and each time we find ourselves in the wrong, because he chooses to walk through the door hiding behind us that we never thought of or noticed. The Overnight is not a revolutionary comedy by any means, but it’s equally free-spirited and nonconformist.
Produced by the Duplass brothers, The Overnight bears a great resemblance to a past starring vehicle of Mark Duplass’ called Humpday. That was made by his frequent collaborator Lynn Shelton, a bisexual herself, and both movies are platforms to challenge gender roles while keeping the mood relatively light and unbiased. It’s a free-flowing atmosphere without much tonal definition. Here though, Brice takes a step forward as a creative filmmaker by filling us with as much unease as he does laughter. Especially Mr. Schwartzman, who owns the movie as the empowering, sympathetic, and eccentric Kurt. The fact that we can go from a tender bedtime tune on a piano for the kids to bong rips and a champagne fueled strobe light party downstairs for the adults within minutes tells you how well the material is handled. That’s about as much as I can say though. Just go see it. Don’t watch the trailer below, don’t read more than I’ve told you. The Overnight challenges its audience and its characters to take a blind leap of faith. Trust that it works.
“It’s been very expanding.”
Rating: 4 out of 5