Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling in Patrick Brice’s “The Overnight.” | THE ORCHARD
BY GARY M. KRAMER | The awkward comedy of manners “The Overnight” has Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) anxious about having to make new friends in Los Angeles, where they recently moved. When their son RJ (RJ Hermes) befriends Max (Max Moritt) at the playground, Max’s father Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) invites RJ and his parents over for pizza with his wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche). The bond that starts to form between the adult couples quickly mirrors the easygoing friendship between the kids.
However, after RJ and Max are put to bed, things become a bit more intense. Alcohol is consumed, bongs are shared, and clothes are shed. Then Alex reveals his concerns about inadequacy, and things get even more sexually explicit and intense.
How far will a couple new to LA go to fit in?
Writer/ director Patrick Brice met with Gay City News to talk about his inspiration for the sexual shenanigans that transpire during “The Overnight.”
GARY M. KRAMER: So, let’s talk about penises. Why did you make them a source of awe and shame for the film’s adult male characters
PATRICK BRICE: I wanted the movie to be about this guy, Alex, overcoming this issue and gaining self-acceptance.
GMK: Did you write about this issue because it is taboo? You find it funny? It’s something you grapple with?
PB: [Laughs.] I have never seen it done in this context or point of view, where it’s almost taking an empathetic approach to it. I wanted it to be funny, but not in a way where you are laughing at the characters. You are laughing with Alex as you are discovering stuff.
GMK: So given the penises on display and discussions about dicks in the film, I’m curious to know about your issue with nudity and body image.
PB: I wouldn’t call them issues! Obviously, I saw it as fodder for comedy. It goes back to this joke I pull on my wife, where I do this impression of Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs” and do a little dance. Nothing brings me more joy than that.
Filmmaker Patrick Brice. | THE ORCHARD
GMK: I would love to see that! It’s a shame we are in a hotel lobby and not in a private room.
PB: [Laughs.] I know!… I saw it as being this kind of interesting almost bait and switch. That 20 minutes into the movie, you find out the crux of the main character is that he has this body issue. I also knew that because the movie takes place in 24 hours, there could only be so much of an emotional arc or growth or journey for the character in that amount of time. I wanted his thing to be overcoming this small — no pun intended — issue.
GMK: The film is about various bad decisions, uncomfortable moments, inappropriate behavior, and awkward exchanges. Why did you explore these aspects of human nature?
PB: I don’t know. Maybe it’s a reflection of how I deal with this human journey as well. An awkward interaction can feel like life or death in the moment. I wanted to take that roller coaster model of a crazy journey and make it about human interaction going wrong or right.
GMK: What can you say about the morality in the film?
PB: It’s a comedy of manners. I think one of the things that’s driving Alex and Emily’s characters to stay in the house is their fear of offending Max and Charlotte. How far do you go with that?
GMK: What can you reveal about the… ahem… climactic scene, which I don’t want to spoil?
PB: That scene was initially written to be much more intense and emotional. Once we got to that point during filming, that didn’t seem to be the right way to go. One of the things that was refreshing and surprising to me was that we left a lot up to the actors. You can only control so much. You create these boundaries for people to play with them, and I think it’s really cool to have a movie like this where you are laughing and being surprised by it and then having this moment of calm and sweetness. It’s interesting to see different audiences react to it — laughing or completely fucking uncomfortable or in complete shock.
GMK: Which character are you most like: Kurt, who is expanding and open to experience, or Alex, who is more of a puke and rally kind of guy?
PB: I’m a puke and rally kind of guy, for sure. It’s something I actually do. I’m known for it. I have stomach issues. My anxiety manifests itself in my stomach. But I respond to this dynamic of Alex and Emily for sure. I’ve been married to my wife for three years but we been together for 10. It’s very much me stepping in potholes and my wife berating me about it. And I’m obsessed with sex.
THE OVERNIGHT | Directed by Patrick Brice | The Orchard | Opens Jun. 19 | Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St.; angelikafilmcenter.com/nyc | AMC Loews Lincoln Square, 1998 Broadway at W. 68th St.; amctheatres.com