The Overnight

March 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman
Directed by: Patrick Brice (“Creep”)
Written by: Patrick Brice (“Creep”)

After a chance encounter at a playground, Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) run into Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) who invites them to meet him and his wife at their house for a dinner party. Soon enough, the craziness begins to become amplified and things get weirder as the night goes on. While Alex embraces his newly found personal development, Emily wonders what the actual motive of this seemingly normal couple really is in “The Overnight.”

From a comedy standpoint, “The Overnight” relies heavily on the personalities of its actors, and nobody shines better than Schwartzman. It isn’t far off from many characters he has played, but there’s a certain earnestness and sincerity, even when he is showing hubris, that Schwartzman can pull off perfectly. Scott and Schilling are also good here, especially in the juxtaposition of their reactions to the events taking place. There are certainly some funny moments throughout the film, yet it wouldn’t be quite fair to call it a straight-up comedy.

Where the film gets a little interesting is in its presentation of complacency, normalcy, and being comfortable. While writer/director Patrick Brice plays a lot of things close to the vest, it becomes apparent quite early on that the purpose of this gathering is not quite what it initially seemed. Without giving too much away, the film dips and dives into areas of sexual comfortability, body shame, and yes, swinging. The problem is, every moment feels set up to be shocking. Any time an interesting point is made about how the evening is making people rethink their insecurities or impacting their relationship, it doesn’t have much of a punch because something “crazy” happened before or after it to blunt its impact.

In a lot of ways, “The Overnight” is about stepping out of your comfort zone, albeit in a very adult fashion. The main problem, however, is that Brice seems to rely far too heavily on the film’s eccentricities and catching the viewer off guard by way of shock value. There’s a theme of curiosity that permeates through the film, and it almost feels mirrored in Brice’s approach to see how his audience would react. That isn’t to say that there aren’t good performances or some interesting complexities to the situations at hand, but “The Overnight” never quite extends past the idea that all relationships get boring after a while.

The Overnight was screening at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival.

The Lucky One

April 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Bylthe Danner
Directed by: Scott Hicks (“Shine,” “No Reservations”)
Written by: Will Fetters (“Remember Me”)

This movie is not for me. I’m a man in my early 30s and, as such, the entire summer movie season is targeted toward me. But this movie, “The Lucky One,” is one of those movies I’m only supposed to see on a date, one that I’m supposed to suffer through for the sake of my girlfriend* having a good cry while basking in the syrupy romance oozing from the screen. And that’s okay. In theaters over the next couple of months, I’ll be able to watch Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Batman, and the entirety of G.I. Joe kick all sorts of super-powered ass. I can take one for the team, you know?

“The Lucky One” is based on the novel of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, the author responsible for “The Notebook” and “A Walk to Remember.” Zac Efron (“17 Again”) stars as Logan Thibault, a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq. In the aftermath of an attack, Logan finds a picture of a smiling woman (Taylor Schilling) half-buried in the rubble. After picking up the picture to examine it, a rocket screams from the sky and explodes in the exact spot he was standing moments before. Convinced the picture saved his life, it becomes his new good luck charm. Months later, after his tour ends, Logan learns the woman’s name is Beth and shows up at her door. However, instead of revealing his true intentions, Logan decides to keep secret his discovery of the photograph that kept him safe.

Directed by Academy Award-nominee Scott Hicks (“Shine”), “The Lucky One” is more of the same from the Nicholas Sparks romantic drama factory. The star-crossed couple, the tow-headed youngster, and the hot-headed ex-husband are all as familiar as a well-worn shoe, as is the chunk of Louisiana they inhabit, where it’s always nearly dusk and there are an awful lot of quaint old bridges. Efron, best known for his singing and dancing in Disney’s “High School Musical” series, never deviates from a stilted, wooden stoicism, while relative unknown Schilling (“Atlas Shrugged – Part 1”) does fine as a single mother reluctantly falling for a mysterious stranger who somehow managed to walk from Colorado to Louisiana and still end up looking like Zac Efron instead of a filthy lunatic. And despite actually being 69 years old, Blythe Danner oddly feels too young to be playing the grandmother of a woman in her 20s.

Some poor editing proves to be a distraction from time to time, and the beginning of the film feels too rushed, leaving the title rather puzzling as a result. But I suspect these concerns will only be expressed by the men in the audience, and will likely be quickly shushed away by smitten wives and girlfriends.

*My girlfriend doesn’t actually like movies like this.