PARK CITY, Utah — This year's Sundance Film Festival boasts the most sexualized lineup anyone can remember, with The D Train, The Bronze, Tangerine, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl all putting libidinal impulses at their centers.
But even in that libertine crowd, the penis party in The Overnight stands apart.
"I feel bad for anyone that paid for the movie hoping for boobs," the film's writer-director Patrick Brice told BuzzFeed News in an interview on Saturday.
When planning The Overnight with executive producer Mark Duplass, Brice remembered wondering aloud, "What if we made a movie that had more male nudity than female nudity? Why don't we subvert that convention when it comes to these kinds of movies?"
And subvert they did. There is one scene in The Overnight in which one of the female characters is topless, but it is later overshadowed completely by the movie's extensive full-frontal dudity (a term for on-screen male nudity coined by my former colleague Chris Lee).
The Overnight follows two Los Angeles couples — parents of young sons — who experience a wild night together. One couple, Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling), have recently moved from Seattle and are desperate for friends. The other, Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godrèche), are ensconced in a monied part of the city's Eastside, and volunteer to serve as new best friends and ambassadors for Alex and Emily, beginning with a dinner party at their well-appointed yet distinctly hipster mansion. The night is boisterous, drunken, and druggy, then weird and almost sinister, and finally, warm and touching.
There's a sexual undercurrent throughout, but to say in which directions it goes would be to spoil some of the movie's delights. When the penises appear, however, it is in an intentionally nonsexual context.
"A lot of times, when you see a sex comedy, they'll treat the characters as sex objects," Brice said. "I wanted to make a sex comedy where we weren't treating the characters like that."
At a turning point, Kurt suggests that the foursome go skinny-dipping and strips down to reveal a "goddamn horse cock," as Alex bitterly describes it to Emily. Alex is reluctant to take off his clothes because, as he tells his wife during their summit to decide whether to skinny-dip or not to skinny-dip, he's insecure about his own penis size. With that scene alone, which features Kurt and his penis swimming around unashamedly, The Overnight would have surpassed Forgetting Sarah Marshall in the male full-frontal department. But then, it goes further.
A bit later in the night, Kurt presses Alex and Emily about why they wouldn't strip and swim — and at that point, Alex decides to be honest about his insecurity. The admission soon turns into Kurt inspiring Alex to be proud of his penis and dance naked with the also-naked Kurt — it is screamingly funny, shocking, and truly unprecedented in Western cinema. And Eastern cinema too, I imagine. And porn, probably! (At least in this context.)
"It's a gag, but I also wasn't going to put it in unless it made sense, and hopefully have some pathos involved," said Brice. "It felt like a chance to mine new territory in that sense. I wanted to do it in a way that reflected a sensitivity that wasn't pointing at someone and laughing at him. I wanted this to be a real thing."
Still, there was plenty of laughter behind the scenes. "It was the best!" Brice said of the naked dance. "There's takes that are blown because our B-camera operator was laughing, and there was this shaking going on. Same with the butthole scene." (Reader, you will have to see the movie, which is seeking distribution at Sundance, to find out about "the butthole scene.")
As for the penises themselves, Scott, who also served as an executive producer on The Overnight, addressed the elephant in the room during the Q&A after The Overnight's Sundance Film Festival premiere on Friday. "Let's make this clear right now: They were both prosthetics."
Yes, a prosthetics company created them. But how did Brice go about imagining them? He, Duplass, and Naomi Scott, The Overnight's producer (and Adam's wife), extensively discussed "how big the big one should be, and how small the small one should be," he remembered. "I think I'm happy with the size we ended up with on both ends. We didn't want to make it astronomically insane."
And no, Alex's is not a micropenis, either. Just smaller than average. "We were like, we don't want this guy to have, like, a medical condition," said Brice. "And we wanted you to be able to see it in that shot. That will be the sequel, I guess. The return of the micropenis!"