Lawrence Toppman

‘Overnight’ will keep you up, mostly laughing

Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in a scene from THE OVERNIGHT "The Overnight.
Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in a scene from THE OVERNIGHT "The Overnight. The Orchard

The Internet Movie Data Base provides a keyword search that links movies by topics. If you type in “prosthetic penis,” only 12 films out of tens of thousands on the site come up. “The Overnight” is one, and I’m still shaking my head over it – and the fact that it has stayed with me in a positive way.

We’ve all seen movies in which a relatively strait-laced couple meet new friends/neighbors/co-workers who seem amiable at first but end up as psychos or perpetual irritants. Writer-director Patrick Brice (“Creep”) seems to take us down that path at the beginning, when Seattle transplants Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) meet Kurt and Charlotte (Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche) soon after moving to Los Angeles.

Their kids play together in a park, so Kurt invites the newcomers over for supper. Clearly, something more than good community relations must be afoot. But we’re not sure what, despite all sorts of odd hints, until the last few scenes.

For this is a film about insecurities. Alex obsesses over the diminutive size of his organ, especially in comparison with Kurt’s. Emily worries that Alex finds her a bore after 10 years of marriage and may be drawn to the French sophistication of Charlotte. Kurt, who seems more assured than the rest, hides anxieties of his own.

The hip, settled Los Angelenos have no more comfort in their skins than the nervous newcomers. Though our sympathies lie initially with the uncomfortable Emily, we eventually distribute empathy among all four.

Brice stops his story just before it becomes redundant – most filmmakers these days can’t say that – and although I didn’t believe the outrageous next-to-last scene, he caps it with a laugh-out-loud joke. He knows he has a short story to tell and doesn’t turn it into a filmic novel.

The actors do their jobs well, especially Schwartzman. He can turn smarmy or oddly charming or slightly pathetic, as Kurt does over the arc of the story, and we don’t know until the end how his character will turn out.

P.S. I have not seen any of the other 11 films on that list with “The Overnight.” If you screen “Bubbles Galore” or “Easter Bunny Bloodbath,” let me know what I’m missing.

Toppman: 704-358-5232

REVIEW

‘The Overnight’

Two couples in Los Angeles meet for dinner and...er...other things, to the surprise of the pair newly arrived in La-La Land. Not what you’d expect, though.

B STARS: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godreche.

WRITER-DIRECTOR: Patrick Brice.

RUNNING TIME: 80 minutes.

RATING: R (strong sexuality, graphic nudity, language and drug use).

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