The Overnight: A Strange Update to Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Patrick Brice’s second feature, The Overnight, is a far cry from his first, Creep. The latter is darkly comedic tale of murder and obsession while the former is something of an update on the 1969 classic Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Both include the participation of Mark Duplass as producer, making each one distinctively “indie” in nature.

Promo poster for The Overnight
Promo poster for The Overnight

Unfolding with the premise of a couple and their son recently transplanted to Los Angeles from Seattle (like Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, California holds the key to swingerdom), The Overnight pairs the conservative uptightness of Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) with the absurd openness of Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). While Alex fears being friendless and alone now that they’ve moved away, Emily insists he’ll make acquaintances at the kids’ birthday party he’s taking RJ (RJ Hermes) to, even though she has to work during it and won’t be able to be there as a buffer.

The uptight couple from Seattle
The uptight couple from Seattle

Standing alone watching RJ play by himself in the park, Alex gets the feeling that he’s going to be a lonely stay at home dad for the duration of his Los Angeles existence. Thankfully, Emily shows up with a pack of gummy worms to give to RJ, which helps him to quickly befriend Max (Max Moritt), who turns out to be the son of an eccentrically dressed hipster parent type in the form of Kurt. Enamored by his friendliness, Alex and Emily agree to attend dinner with him and his wife, and to bring RJ along so that their “play date” can continue.

The hippie-dippy Californian/French couple
The hippie-dippy Californian/French couple

Upon arriving with what Alex is chagrined to find is “two-buck chuck,” they are both instantly impressed with the house and manner of Kurt and his French wife. As the night wears on, everything seems ordinary enough, until Alex and Emily make moves to leave with RJ and Charlotte remarks, in all of her French glory, “Only in America do we let children dictate when the night is over.” They then manage to persuade them to let RJ spend the night so that they can continue their own evening. The sketchiness escalates from there.

Emily and Alex have to masturbate next to each other in order to get an orgasm, mainly due to Alex's "abnormally small" penis
Emily and Alex have to masturbate next to each other in order to get an orgasm, mainly due to Alex’s “abnormally small” penis

Said sketchiness starts somewhere around the time Kurt shows Alex his “butthole paintings.” By the middle of the night, skinny dipping has ensued, with Kurt showing off his horse of a penis and making Alex feel so self-conscious that he can’t disrobe. Soon, however, he’s drunk and high enough to confess to Charlotte and Kurt his secret shame about having an “abnormally small” appendage that’s stayed the same size since junior high. Kurt then manages to get Alex to show them his nether region, causing an unexpected moment of liberation. Meanwhile, Emily is increasingly disturbed by where the night is heading, trying to urge Alex to leave so that they can get out while they can. But Alex can’t be persuaded, he’s having too much of a good time finally feeling comfortable with himself.

The hipster parents of L.A.
The hipster parents of L.A.

Thus, the night is at last permitted to take its most unlikely turn, with sexual and emotional epiphanies running rampant by the end. And yet, for all these discoveries, little is ultimately gleaned by the viewer in the end.