Tribeca Film Festival Review: The Overnight

The Overnight? More like The OverNOT, as in “not a very good movie!”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAbut no really.

A hit at Sundance for some reason (I’m guessing Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman were there getting their schmooze on?), this sophomore feature from writer/director Patrick Brice is about a new-to-LA couple, Emily (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Adam Scott), whose fears that they won’t be able to make any friends are put to rest when they meet hipper-than-hip Kurt (Schwartzman) and his classy, boho French wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). What starts as a simple dinner party gets increasingly weird as the night goes on and both couples start to reveal secrets about themselves. Pot ‘n’ penises, my friends. Pot ‘n’ penises.

(Side note: I really want to do an interview with the person whose job it is to make prosthetic penises for movies. The Overnight‘s “Makeup Department” section on IMDB sadly does not list a “Penis Wrangler.”)

Schwartzman and Scott are both talented comedic actors, and I’m going to give Schilling and Godrèche the benefit of the doubt and assume they are, too, even though I haven’t seen them in anything else. (Yeah, I know, I know. Orange Is the New Black is on my to-watch list.) And there are some genuinely funny moments that result from the more normal Emily and Alex being exposed to their new rich Angeleno friends’ eccentricities.

I need more than jokes, though. I need story and character development, and The Overnight is light on both. The night spools out in an entirely predictable fashion, with nothing happening that you couldn’t have guessed was going to happen after the first half hour. The ending is anticlimactic (a fitting pun considering this is a sex comedy, ba-doom-ch). And look, I get that this is a low-budget indie character piece, and that it’s xc–executive produced by mumblecore god Mark Duplass, but I don’t think I’m being unbearably low-brow here when I say a compelling plot is rarely optional. If your movie’s going to be characters sitting around talking, you need either exceptionally good characters or exceptionally good dialogue, and The Overnight is only “eh” on both.

It’s like Brice got access to a fancy LA mansion, only a condition of him using it was that he had to come up with a movie in 48 hours, so he invited some of his friends over, gave them some basic character descriptions, and told them to “play around for a few days, I dunno.” Emily was particularly ill-served: Schilling did a great job in scenes that gave us a peek at some of the turmoil underneath her sensible, risk-averse façade, but then all of her issues (she’s not sexually satisfied by her husband, she might be attracted to Charlotte) are dropped by the end of the movie in favor of a resolution that snaps the focus back to Alex and Kurt’s sexual issues and leaves Emily and Charlotte’s more or less forgotten.

I don’t think The Overnight is intentionally sexist. I do think it’s sloppy and lazily written. Brice should have put the actors through more rehearsals or character workshopping, honed his script with another draft or two, something.

The Overnight comes to theaters in limited release on June 19th. Wait for Netflix instead. High/drunk Adam Scott is always fun to watch. Bababooey.

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