It’s the big itch, inevitable in the course of any relationship. It usually starts in the seventh year, give or take a year or two. But no matter when it happens, the operative questions remain the same: whether – and how – to scratch it. In the tepid Generation X comedy The Overnight, two straight couples spend 12 or so hours asking themselves those things during a long night’s journey into day that involves a little skinny-dipping, a lot of champagne swilling, and the possibility of ratcheting it up, sex-wise. It’s an Albee all-night free-for-all for four thirtysomethings gingerly considering pushing the boundaries of their marriages, but without the vitriolic relish of their hallowed predecessors, George and Martha and Nick and Honey. No matter how hard the film tries to challenge bourgeois notions of wedded bliss, it’s all so very civilized. There are no outbursts of “Hey, Swampy!” No revelations of make-believe offspring. For those of you who like a swift kick in their epiphanies, you may ask: What’s the fun in that?
No question, The Overnight makes some perceptive observations about the inexorable wane of physical attraction that every relationship experiences at some point. It aptly traverses a rocky terrain with which many of us are painfully familiar. (The opening scene is spot-on: A couple intentionally engages in coitus interruptus to individually bring themselves to orgasm simply because it’s become the most efficient way to end the sex act.) Director/screenwriter Brice’s script runs the gamut from penis envy of the non-Freudian male variety to anonymous jerk-off sex in a massage parlor, with a detour into anal art, depicting assholes as flowery supernovas. These diversions, however, are more silly than shocking. The actors are game for anything, refreshingly so, especially Scott as the homebound househusband who finds himself open to something different. Kudos to both Scott and Schwartzman for wearing the bro version of a merkin in the nighttime pool scenes, going so far as to gyrate like spastic strippers in a third-rate version of Magic Mike. It’s a move that definitely took (fake) balls. The two female leads (the wonderful Schilling from Orange Is the New Black) and Godrèche don’t fare as well; they come off as bland and interchangeable, afraid to push the same kinds of limits as their male counterparts. In the end, the preordained ménage à quatre that culminates the evening’s funny games titillates neither mentally nor erotically. Without any such catharsis, the whole thing feels like a big tease. No doubt what The Overnight could use at this point is another happy ending.
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