Sex comedies have disappeared over the last decade. It tumbled after what I’d say was the direct to DVD follow-ups of the American Pie series. I’d also say that it was for the best. Unfortunately, the sex comedy is bound by a very specific set of rules based on the genre. They usually involve teenagers creeping around their high school looking to lose their virginity to a few girls that would be out of reach to most of the audience. Fortunately, The Overnight has come to pick up the pieces of the aforementioned sex comedy genre and turn it on its head.
The Overnight starring Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, and, the relatively unknown to English-speaking audiences, Judith Godreche, is not the sex comedy that you would see back in the 90’s. Produced by Mark Duplass, one of the creators of the short-lived ‘Mumblecore’ movement, The Overnight takes the quiet and realistic relationship moments from those films and sets them into a more zany setting. Sure, there are a few jokes that pull you out of the drama of those previous moments, but it calms you down before you start to think you aren’t supposed to laugh. And you definitely are supposed to laugh
The performances across the board are incredibly superb. Adam Scott brings dramatic heft to the usual sarcastic character we’ve seen him play on Party Down and Parks & Recreation, while Jason Schwartzman tricks us into thinking he plays the same character he always does, but has a lot more to do with the writing he’s given. The women aren’t shafted in the writing department either. Schilling and Godreche’s characters are superbly drawn into a world “surrounded by boys” and boy do they show the struggle. Their scenes together, while not the highlight of the film by any means, feel incredibly genuine and real.
Despite the amount of reality that comes through the screen, I couldn’t help but feel the movie came across as slight by the end of it. I don’t think it’s particularly fair to expect a movie to answer questions about the mundanities of marriage or sexual inadequacies, but even narratively, there doesn’t seem to be a sense of closure for some of these topics. I loved the acknowledgement of these concerns and I don’t expect a pat ending for such issues, but there are ways to coherently come to a conclusion with those topics without ruining the conversation of those subjects. And while the writing may be excellent for the most part, the direction is incredibly understated, to the point where there doesn’t seem to be much personality aside from a few entertaining dance sequences.
While I may have issues with certain aspects of the film, including its slight feel, I truly believe this is a film to praise based on its relationships alone. These people are not caricatures to relay a message from a director, but true people with real feelings. Every moment of awkwardness is sold wonderfully by the cast, especially Schilling’s Emily, a character that feels shame in her sexual and family life. In fact, shame is almost another character in the movie. It peeks its head around the corner every time something is said that makes another person feel uneasy for reasons that shouldn’t be spoiled.
The Overnight is truly something special in a blockbuster-filled summer. Like other genre exercises, it defies your expectations with a little bit of something else – heart and soul. However your feelings on full frontal nudity, awkward sex scenes, and even more awkward conversations, there’s always something real to see. And maybe it’s something movies could learn a little more about.
And now that we’re at the end of the review, I’d like to ask you this: If you just moved across the country and didn’t have any friends but were invited to a dinner party by someone you just met at the park, would you go? It doesn’t sound unreasonable. It’s not like you would think that the night would bring about videos of breast pumps and paintings of buttholes. But it might be a night that could also fulfill the emptiness in your heart for friendship. And I’d say it’s definitely worth jumping in.