Raunchy sex comedies are a dime a dozen, but the hysterically funny “The Overnight” is far from a typical film of the genre. Rather than depicting the exploits of horny teenagers, “The Overnight” is a decidedly adult film, and the filmmakers make sure we know it from the very opening scene.
The film opens with workaholic Emily (Taylor Schilling, “Orange Is The New Black“) and her husband/stay-at-home dad Alex (Adam Scott, “Parks & Recreation“) having awkward sex, doing all they can to finish before their kids burst in and ruin the fun. They just moved from Seattle to Los Angeles and literally don’t know anybody in the area, and joke about how they could use some friends their own age.
Enter Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), an organic, artisinal, juicing LA hipster father who practically reeks charisma. After their kids hit if off at the park, Kurt invites Alex & Emily over for dinner, they graciously accept, and that’s when things get a little weird.
As you may have guessed from the title, the exploits in “The Overnight” take place over the course of one evening. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Kurt and his (very French) wife Charlotte did not invite Alex & Emily over for a traditional meal — they have other, dirtier plans. Once the kids are put to bed and the drinks start to flow, Kurt & Charlotte’s flirtation sparks Alex & Emily’s intrigue, and the comedic tension and number of laughs escalate until it reaches its wildly satsifying finale.
While the story may sound unremarkable on paper, it’s the chemistry between its stars that make it stand out. Schwartzman gives undoubtedly the funniest performance of his career, and huge laughs stem from the sheer ludicrousness of his character.
Even though his role is not as outwardly comical as Schwartzman’s, Adam Scott is also hilarious and gets plenty of great lines. Schilling plays it pretty straight, but everyone truly gets a chance to shine. It’s a real ensemble piece, and the interplay between them all is so much fun to watch.
Amongst the poignant deconstruction of modern relationships, “The Overnight” peppers in a lot of low-brow humour. There are running gags involving a prosthetic penis, paintings that look more like colonoscopy results, and a bizarre massage sequence. What’s amazing about these moments is that, in the context of the scene, they totally work and are genuienly funny. It’s never cheap, and the jokes are only there because they help add to these character’s identities — the laughs are legitimately earned.
There’s a real vulnerability to the film and these characters that gives it a certain charm. It’s a testament to the sharp writing and genuienly unique perspective that, despite their outlandishness, even the film’s raciest scenes are rendered completely natural and real in the moment. Great films often engage with ideas outside of the status-quo, but rarely do they do so with a grace that makes the audience question their own inhibitions.
Ultimately, the element that keeps “The Overnight” so fun and engaging is the careful, steady reveal of information. We spend just the right amount of time soaking up these characters and their beliefs that when caution is thrown to the wind, it’s impossible to not just smile and watch how they deal with it.
“The Overnight” plays the Tribeca Film Festival Tuesday 4/21 — Thursday 4/23. Wide release TBA.
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