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