“The Overnight,” the latest project produced by brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, feels at times like a heavily R-rated sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” By that I mean it starts off with normal people who enter a seemingly normal situation before things gradually become more and more bizarre. Unfortunately like many SNL sketches it is not always laugh-out-loud funny, but the very game cast and director Patrick Brice should be commended for trying to stretch things as far as possible with the adult content.
The story focuses on four characters, beginning with Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) who have recently moved from Seattle to Los Angeles with their young son. Like most people who have moved to a new place they now find themselves in the difficult position of having to make new friends, which is even more difficult now that they are in their 30s. Like Judd Apatow explored in “I Love You, Man” it is not easy for an adult to approach another adult and say: “will you be my friend?”
Fortunately their son allows them to meet another parent at a children’s park with the hopes this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) initially looks like a possibly dangerous stranger at the park, but once Alex and Emily see him interact with his own son they see he is a perfectly normal guy, and accept his invitation for dinner that very night. As Emily puts it, they will either finish the evening with new friends, or leave early because they are bored.
The evening starts off well as the couple meet Kurt’s charming French wife Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), a part time actress and masseuse, and enjoy a good meal and some drinks. After Kurt puts the children to sleep thanks to a very effective lullaby, the grown-ups decide to spend some more time doing grown-up things. This is where the evening starts to become gradually weird. First Kurt brings out a bong so everyone can smoke what seems to be some pretty good weed, before showing one of Charlotte’s movies, whose content take Alex and Emily by surprise. Later Kurt shows Alex his collection of paintings, which Alex correctly guesses are all of people’s butt holes. It gets more and more awkward from there.
Throughout the night both couples end up doing a lot of soul searching as more weed and alcohol is consumed, and there are lots of funny moments as Alex and Emily end up doing things they would probably never have done in any other situation. Without giving too much away, if you have ever complained there is not enough male nudity in R-rated comedies, you will have nothing to complain about here. Funny situations aside, the movie also seems to try to make a point about what happens when couples lie to each other. However, exploring those issues at a dinner with people you have just met will definitely lead to awkward feelings the morning after.
All of the actors do a very good and at times brave job with the story while drawing a lot of humor from the many awkward situations, but not every situation is a funny as it could be. Maybe it is because the movie did not go quite as far as it could have gone, or maybe because you have to be able to identify with the characters in order to be in on the joke. Either way, “The Overnight” does go to a lot of places most comedies are not brave enough to enter.
(“The Overnight” is out on DVD and Blu-Ray and is streaming on Netflix.)