Night moves

The Overnight, sex com­edy, rated R, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 2.5 chiles

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Mar­ried sex is so un­sat­is­fy­ing. There is no mys­tery left, no ro­mance, and af­ter a decade or so, surely ev­ery fan­tasy and fetish has been voiced, if not ex­plored, so what’s left? This is the ba­sic premise of The Overnight ,in which new­com­ers to Los An­ge­les, Alex (Adam Scott), and Emily (Tay­lor Schilling), are in­vited to a get-to-know-you pizza party by a man named Kurt (Jason Schwartz­man), whom they meet in the park. Kurt has so many hipster af­fec­ta­tions that he is in­ex­pli­ca­bly dressed like he just left Amish coun­try. He lives with his wife, Char­lotte (Ju­dith Go­drèche), in a dark, cav­ernous man­sion they can­not log­i­cally af­ford, given that Kurt is a wa­ter-fil­tra­tion sales­man and fledg­ling pain­ter, and Char­lotte is an as­pir­ing ac­tress. Right away some­thing doesn’t seem quite right about the get-to­gether, but Alex and Emily brush off ev­ery red flag their new friends wave.

As the wine flows and the bong comes out — and the ine­bri­ated group­danc­ing mon­tage en­sues — it’s ob­vi­ous that some kind of swing­ing will hap­pen be­tween the cou­ples, but how they will re-cou­ple re­mains un­clear as the ten­sion ratch­ets up. Alex and Emily’s sex­ual dys­func­tion is due to Alex’s neu­ro­sis about the size of his penis, and whether or not it can ever be ful­fill­ing for Emily. Emily is less con­cerned, be­cause Alex is the only per­son she’s ever had sex with, but her un­stated cu­rios­ity about other men weighs on him. Their bed­room is­sues are rather vanilla, how­ever, when com­pared to the ways Kurt and Char­lotte would like to spice up their mar­riage — if only they were less awk­ward in the art of se­duc­tion. This is where the com­edy comes in, as Kurt and Char­lotte go to ex­treme lengths to pro­long the get-to­gether and show off their open­mind­ed­ness and for­ays into trans­gres­sive be­hav­ior. Alex and Emily are en­tranced by the L.A. glam­our, and de­spite some mis­giv­ings about where the night is headed, they ob­vi­ously want their but­tons pushed.

Though the act­ing is strong, and there are many laugh-out-loud mo­ments, there is some­thing shal­low about The Overnight. The char­ac­ters are de­fined only by their sex­ual de­sires with no ex­plo­ration of their deeper dis­sat­is­fac­tions that are more likely cul­prits for un­hap­pi­ness. The com­edy re­lies heav­ily on the idea that the au­di­ence will be both tit­il­lated and hor­ri­fied by the po­ten­tial pair­ings — the laugh­ter of dis­com­fort — but it doesn’t ad­dress what’s ac­tu­ally at stake in their mar­riages. The big­gest joke in the film is tied to penis size. Don’t get too ex­cited. Spoiler alert: The co­pi­ous full-frontal male nu­dity in the movie — rare out­side of pornog­ra­phy — is pros­thetic. — Jen­nifer Levin

Swing the­ory: Adam Scott and Tay­lor Schilling

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