Writer: Patrick Brice
Cast: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche
Running time: 79mins
The lowdown: A successful example of that most difficult beast, the sex comedy, The Overnight is a sophisticated, smutty delight. Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling are a couple recently moved to LA with their young son, who have a night not easily forgotten when invited to Jason Schwartzman’s house for dinner and a play date for their boys. Unpredictable and laugh-out-loud hilarious, this is grown-up comedy with the dick jokes purely in service of character… well, mostly.
The full verdict: In the tradition of Carnage or While We’re Young, The Overnight is a textbook example of how to make a nightmare comedy of social awkwardness and people it with living, breathing characters.
Parks and Recreations’ Adam Scott and Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling are knockout as likeable, middle class couple Alex and Emily, worried that their move to LA will leave them friendless.
This fear is put to bed when Jason Schwartzman’s free spirit dad Kurt invites them to his large house in the hills for a “welcome to the neighbourhood” dinner. Kurt’s wife Charlotte (Godrèche) is beautiful, friendly and very tactile and once the kids are put to bed, the night takes interesting turns. But, do the judgement free hosts have ulterior motives?
The Overnight echoes the basic plot of horror gem Cheap Thrills. To writer/director Patrick Brice’s credit, he deftly handles tonal shifts to confound expectations without his story toppling off the knife edge of uneasy comedy.
Every ambiguous line of dialogue or stray look elicits giggles, and the film keeps motivations of all characters shifting as fresh revelations begin to flow along with the wine, abetted by copious amounts of weed. And oddball painting. And skinny-dipping. And a visit to a Thai massage parlour.
An opening sex scene, with child-based coitus interruptus comedy, recalls the beginning of American Pie: Reunion. But, here an apparent throwaway easy laugh is returned to later for reasons both funny and genuinely touching.
Fear of failure, fear of social embarrassment, fear of conformity and fearless (augmented) full frontal male nudity are all served up with pitch perfect performances from the four main players.
Particularly Schwartzman’s new age hubby, a comic creation to savour, with a self-help line always to hand and a hand always there to help…
The brief 79 minute duration is a lesson to all filmmakers on how to get in and out without disappointment, and even a climactic tone shift that threatens to spoil the good work ultimately lays groundwork for a fantastic punchline.
One of the year’s genuine surprises, do yourself a favour and dive in. The water’s lovely…