What It’s About
A dozen shades of awkward, uncomfortable and funny unfurl in “The Overnight,” an unconventional, unpredictable comedy that wryly observes modern marriage and parenting.
Two just-met couples warmly connect during a pizza party that evolves into a weird, wild and wacky night once their two toddlers are put to bed.
College sweethearts Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) recently moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, and are in an anxious period of adjustment. Alex takes their son R.J. to a neighborhood park, and he makes a new friend, Max, whose hipster dad Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) introduces himself. Soon, an invite to come over for a pizza party-playdate is made.
The gracious hosts welcome their new best friends to their sprawling estate. The size of their luxurious home is the first of many shocks that await Alex and Emily. Kurt is a dabbler — he desalinates water, paints bizarre acrylics, and has other sideline interests. His gorgeous French wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche) is a masseuse and actress.
Just as the more uptight spouses relax, Kurt insists they watch one of Charlotte’s DVDs, and the horrified look on Emily’s face is priceless. What you’re thinking it is and what is actually shown is a surprise.
The wine flows, a bong comes out, and things get kinky poolside. Adult swimtime reveals inhibitions and secrets. Boundaries are pushed. Masculinity and monogamous marriages are topics of discussion. A liquor run detours into even stranger territory.
The dusk to dawn frolic becomes a night the new L.A. residents won’t soon forget.
The talky movie, written and directed by Patrick Brice (“Creep”), benefits from its charming stars, perfectly cast. Schwartzman (“Rushmore”) is a master of droll delivery, and manuevers the relationships with his sharp comedic skills. His Kurt is mysterious, despite his penchant for sharing too much information.
Schwartzman, a veteran of Wes Anderson’s quirky ensembles, plays well with others. He has terrific chemistry with Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), who easily assumes the self-doubting guy trying to come across as confident, as well as Godreche, who plays his sophisticated, sexy wife.
Godreche (“The Man in the Iron Mask”) is a real find here. With her seductive beauty and French accent, she maintains an air of mystery and desire, but has an underlying sweetness, too.
Schilling (“Orange is the New Black”) is effortlessly engaging as a happy wife and mother who puts her family first. Her reactions, ranging from subtle to aghast, to what transpires are hilarious.
The guests’ uneasiness grows as the hosts get looser, creating amusing situations. You’re kept off guard — are Kurt and Charlotte swingers? What is the real story with this adventurous duo?
The humor is less one-liners and wisecracks, and more conversations on contemporary relations — and there are a number of witty comments. Alex muses that maybe all dinner parties in California are like this, while Kurt buys white terrycloth robes by the dozen.
The characters’ eccentricities are what makes the comedy watchable, and the four actors excel at fleshing out their roles.
What doesn’t work
The movie is frank about sex and shows full-frontal nudity. The guys wear prosthetics, but the point is that the movie earns its R. You might turn 50 shades of red.
The story runs out of steam, despite its tidy 80-minute run time. By the time the sun rises, you are ready to go home, too.
3 stars out of 4
Director: Patrick Brice
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Judith Godreche
Rated: R for strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use
Playing: at the Tivoli in St. Louis