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A good-natured sex farce about the insecure male ego and flirting with marital experimentation, The Overnight is a cheerfully raunchy ode to ennui and swinging that is revolutionary in its own small ways. Light as a feather but no less enjoyable—actually quite enjoyable—this broad roundelay is the smartest crude comedy in a long time, one that seamlessly combines witty insights and big laughs. I don’t want to oversell its modest merits, but it works.
Upon relocating from Seattle to Los Angeles, marrieds Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) are desperately in need of some new friends. Their sex life, in the hilarious opening scene, is an overly choreographed routine of “circles” and individual masturbation interrupted by their young son (R.J. Hermes). By all accounts they make a happy family, but for Alex, something is missing.
A remedy presents itself during a kids’ playdate at the neighborhood park when the couple happens upon another parent, assured Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), who invites them over for a pizza night with his beautiful French wife, Charlotte (Judith Godreche). Kurt and Charlotte are the more upscale pair, living in a gated mansion with their own son (Max Moritt).
Kurt is everything Alex isn’t—confident, charismatic and wildly successful, an apparent self-made millionaire involved in some vague water filtration business. Exotic Charlotte is equally enigmatic, an “actress” who in one of the film’s funniest scenes shares a clip of her method work in a breast-pump tutorial.
Once the kids are asleep upstairs, the games begin, and flirting gives way to something that feels like an all-out seduction. For Emily, it’s fun and games with a limit, the movie suggesting at a growing sensuality between the women, however comic. But for Alex, who nearly becomes the subject of one of Kurt’s outrageous paintings of the anal orifice, there’s something more going on.
And this leads to what will be The Overnight’s most talked about sequence, involving two prosthetic penises—naturally, alpha male Kurt’s is huge, and he isn’t afraid of showing it in and out of the pool. But Alex’s lifelong insecurity with his own diminished member has to be faced, and once he does so all bets are off in a very funny, dual frontal nude male bonding scene.
What The Overnight suggests is that anyone in a long-term relationship is inevitably looking to reestablish human relations they aren’t getting from their partner and reinvent themselves exclusive of their established role in a household. But the picture never quite fulfills on its promise to address these issues in full, which is fine enough because the comic antics really sustain themselves, including a side trip to a massage parlor, plenty of same-sex flirting and genuinely sweet climactic kiss that surprises all involved.
While both Schilling and Goodreche are solid, the movie is all about Scott and Schwartzman’s bromance and eventual budding romance, much fun had in their riotous nude scenes and prostheses, and the picture trades substantially on outrageous situations and Alex and Emily’s reactions to them, but director Brice has fashioned a very smart comedy and the stasis of marriage and impact of children on a sex life, and one that deftly balances witty and big laughs, comedy and bittersweet.