By James Hancock June 19th, 2015
I absolutely loathe the majority of romantic comedies made these days. I’d rather not watch movies at all than have to sit through a safe, cute movie of nauseating sentiment that warps what we expect out of human relationships. Perhaps I’m a cynic or just a bitter old bastard, but every once in a while we get a movie that on the surface appears to be a romantic comedy but is in fact an R-rated romp that throws the rulebook out the window. I would be overstating the case to hail The Overnight as a total home run, however, with its lean 80 minute running time, fantastic performances and taboo-breaking plot line, The Overnight kept me cackling with mischievous glee for most of the movie. Written and directed by Patrick Brice, the films stars Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godreche in a story that takes place over one very unusual night in Los Angeles. What starts as a harmless get together with one couple welcoming another to the neighborhood quickly escalates into a night of ‘expansion’ as the characters repeatedly describe it. I usually don’t give a damn about spoilers but for this movie I will make an exception and keep them a secret in that the surprising turns of the narrative are the feature attraction. All I’ll say is that this is the perfect date movie. With its abundance of raunchy humor and sexual intrigue, the movie is highly entertaining but with the added bonus of a heartfelt story about the challenges any new parents face after a few years of marriage when the thrill is officially gone.
In trying to think of a movie to compare this to, it feels as if Patrick Bice took the Hollywood Hills setting of The Anniversary Party (Alan Cumming, Jennifer Jason Leigh – 2001) and the hint of dangerous excitement from Cheap Thrills (E.L. Katz – 2013), smashed them together and created something very new and original in what I normally find to be the stalest of genres. All four lead actors deserve high praise. Their combination of likability, vulnerability and sexual curiosity gives the film an incredibly believable chemistry. What works best are the constant awkward pauses and tense exchanges as the characters push the boundaries of their normal behavior making their insane evening, as over-the-top as it is, all the more relatable. For the first 2/3 of the of the movie I kept dreading the arrival of what I assumed would be the inevitable moment where the script would take the safe predictable path into a bland romantic comedy. I almost succeeded at ruining my viewing experience entirely by constantly second guessing where the story was going to go only to be delightfully surprised at every turn. Filmmaker Patrick Bice is relatively new to the game with his only previous feature film being Creep (2014), a film I am going to have to hunt down. His work has definitely caught my interest. Plenty of people are going to find watching The Overnight to be an uncomfortable experience. It is impossible not to react to the movie on a very personal level thinking about what forbidden experiences we might be willing to try with enough booze and weed swirling around in our brains while hanging out at a beautiful house with an exotic couple in Los Angeles. I’d argue that the film’s naysayers and detractors are the very same people that could use an evening exactly like the one portrayed in the movie. My advice is for folks to let their hair down, relax, and enjoy what will likely be the only romantic comedy worth seeing all summer.
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