Monday, June 29, 2015

"The Overnight": a couples comedy with body-image issues for straight (or "bi") men

The Overnight”, by Patrick Brice (2015), is a suburban (LA) couples sex comedy, and it does remind one of older movies, like “Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice” or even “The Ice Storm”. In another way, it has some elements (for straight or bisexual people) from “Judas Kiss”. 

The film was also produced by the Duplass Brothers (remember “The Puffy Chair”).

As the film opens, Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling) seem to have a robust marriage and family bed.  Soon, Alex meets Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) in the park, and Kurt invites the family to a pizza welcome with wife Charlotte (Judith Goodreche).

And this is a bring-the-kids night. I can recall my parents doing this when I was growing up.  I’d go to sleep in another bedroom in a host’s house, and my parents would play cards until about 1 AM, and then they would come get me and we would go home.

Kurt has other interests besides just hospitality.  For one thing, he paints.  He encourages Alex to become a partner in self-discovery.  But things get racier when the two couples start smoking pot and then jump in the pool.  Kurt and Charlotte go completely nude.

Alex loses it and vomits at the edge of the pool (recalling the Polanski  couples movie “Carnage”).  Theb Kurt makes a big deal of why Alex keeps his briefs on.

What follows is a comic exercise in what we make of primary sexual characteristics in men as well as women. The issue was covered here in the documentary “Unhung Hero”.   Women want to make this “all right”.  I friend’s wife one time suggested my becoming a hippy to compensate, and I found that idea rather insulting.   

As to secondary characteristics more of fantasy value to me, well, Kurt is hairier, but Alex is taller, leaner and has a slightly deeper voice. Things balance out. 
Finally, there is another exercise – men turn to some temporary intimacy with each other, not for lifestyle purposes because it will actually reinforce heterosexual marriage.  I explore that idea in my novel “Angel’s Brother” with the bisexual (but usually straight) major character Randy (turning 40).  I think this possibility is much more important in practice than people want to admit.

In that scene, there is a suggestion of the technique used in an intimate "tutorial" scene in “Judas Kiss”, which I think the filmmakers must have been familiar with. But finally, as an element of comedy, the kids walk in on the homoeroticism.  It's not too much of a stretch to compare Kurt to the character "Shane" from the Judas movie. 

The official site is here  (Orchard Films).

I saw the film before a small audience Monday afternoon at Angelika Mosaic in Fairfax Va.
The film has no connection to “The Overnighters” (a controversial documentary, Nov. 15, 2014).

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