SXSW 2015 Review: ‘The Overnight’ Doesn’t Overstay Its Welcome
Most indie films on a budget give us some familiar restrictions, like stories confined to a single location with a few actors. We accept it because we want to see fresh stories and talent and we respect the filmmakers for embracing limitations. Sometimes this results in claustrophobic horror, sometimes in intense drama, but in the case of The Overnight, the indie restrictions are used for raunchy comedic effect.
Emily and Alex (Taylor Schilling and Adam Scott) are new to Los Angeles and looking to make some grown-up friends. On the playground with their kids they meet fellow parents Kurt and Charlotte (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche) who invite them over for a couples night. Once dinner begins, Kurt and Charlotte keep stretching the night further and getting weirder and weirder.
This is a very real, relatable situation. People get together and hang out, sometimes overstaying their welcome on either side. This is more entertaining though. Writer/director Patric Brice keeps coming up with weirder and weirder things for Kurt and Charlotte to expose Emily and Alex to, so we want to see what happens even though, if it were us, we’d probably just leave.
The Overnight made waves at Sundance for it’s prosthetic penises, so yes, dick jokes are a major part of the humor. There is so much more though. The videos of Charlotte that Kurt shows are absurd in the sense that they could be real and legitimate, but why would you show those to company? Charlotte’s artwork is another absurdly lowbrow joke disguised as a highbrow hobby.
What sells the humor on both sides is that both of these relationships are real. Emily and Alex are a typical normal couple struggling to keep their sexual relationship alive with kids in the house. Kurt and Charlotte are hippy dippies but don’t do anything outside the realm of reality. Juxtaposing these two couples is a natural comic fit, and the film is sensitive to Kurt when he admits some vulnerabilities. This is in the same movie with a penis dance.
Produced by Mark Duplass, Scott and Scott’s wife Naomi, the film has a very Duplass aesthetic. Essentially, no lighting and raw photography. That kind of makes it funnier too. Films that look like this are usually about sensitive people talking about their feelings. The Overnight is sensitive and characters do talk about their feelings, but it breaks the tension with dirty jokes at every turn.
I’m surprised The Overnight only sold to a distributor with limited theatrical and VOD release patterns. It’s got a solid cast and consistently dirty jokes that it could compete with the likes of Unfinished Business and Get Hard. But if you’re more comfortable watching it in the privacy of your own home, you’ll have that option on June 19th.