There's a jangly, good-natured looseness to "The Overnight," a ribald, ultimately thoughtful comedy of social and sexual manners, that provides a welcome tonic to the strident summer blockbusters surrounding it.
Alex (Adam Scott) and his wife, Emily (Taylor Schilling), are new to Los Angeles and eager to make friends but warily anxious as well. At a playground, their son, RJ, befriends the son of Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), who immediately regales Alex with tales of vegan diets and cleanses. Kurt epitomizes artisanal hipster cool, and when Alex and Emily stop by his home for dinner later, they realize that he's not only impossibly wealthy but also married to a beautiful French model-actress named Charlotte (Judith Godrèche). The two couples and their children fall into an easy, instantaneous friendship, a process "The Overnight" chronicles through free-flowing Bordeaux, bong hits and escalating boundary violations.
Playing out over the course of one night and the wee hours of the following morning, "The Overnight" ostensibly is about the uptight Alex and Emily loosening up around the far more bohemian Kurt and Charlotte. Harking back to "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," "The Overnight" joins a long line of nervous sex comedies, and the sense of chaos grows more palpably kinky until the film's billboard scene, when Alex and Kurt perform an impromptu Magic Mike routine, complete with boom box.
Written and directed by Patrick Brice ("Creep"), "The Overnight" was produced by Mark and Jay Duplass, whose HBO series "Togetherness" also shares some married-with-difficulties DNA. Schwartzman and Godrèche portray Kurt and Charlotte with keen self-awareness and deceptive physical courage. Schwartzman and Scott -- who brings such focus and solemnity to even the silliest gambits -- gradually take over the movie, until, in a startlingly somber penultimate scene, they become the film's most compelling couple.
For a brief time, though, "The Overnight" offers a compassionate glimpse of people at their most naked, honest and undefended.