Have you ever had a crazy night where after having survived one disaster after another until the sun came up, you realized you’d do it all over again? I think I’ve had a fair few in my life (although to be honest, most of my all-nighter memories are less of the partying variety and were more trying furiously to finish a class project during my undergrad and graduate school days, but I digress). As such, I have a soft spot for movies that act as a comedy of errors as our characters try to get from Point A to Point B to achieve some goal. If you have a an affinity for those types of movies as well, you need look no further than the upcoming indie film ALL NIGHTER starring J.K. Simmons and Emile Hirsch.
The film introduces us to a young man named Martin (Hirsch), a struggling LA musician nervously meeting his girlfriend Ginnie’s intimidating father, Mr. Gallo (Simmons), for the first time. Gallo is a tough-minded, no-nonsense international businessman who never has enough time for Ginnie. At dinner together, Gallo is resolutely unimpressed by Martin, Martin grows increasingly uncomfortable, and the meal is a disaster.
We cut to six months later, Martin’s broken-hearted over being dumped by Ginnie, who has “moved on”, when Gallo shows up at his door looking for his daughter. Her cellphone is off and she has not responded to any texts or emails. Although it’s the last thing he wants to do, Martin is “persuaded” by Gallo to take him to where Martin believes Ginnie is living. Ginnie isn’t there either, and Martin and Mr. Gallo are forced to spend the rest of the day and night together, searching for her all over town. As they attempt to solve the puzzle of what is going on in Ginnie’s life, they encounter her crazy friends and get into increasingly desperate jams of their own making. Can the two men set aside their differences to find out what happened to Ginnie, and more importantly can they survive the night together long enough to find out?
As I said before, I have a real soft spot for movies like (look no further than PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES to see why), however that doesn’t mean that every film with this type of premise will be able to pull off the one thing that matters most: the comedy. I’ve seen many films like this fall completely flat because the humor, which should be the crux of the movie, simply didn’t work. Many of these movies fall into the trap of making characters just a little too unlikable or mean-spirited, or of trying too hard to evoke gratuitous shock value. So movies like this have a fine line to walk being over the top enough to be funny, but grounded enough to still have relatable characters going through an at least somewhat meaningful journey. Luckily, ALL NIGHTER seems to pull off both pretty effectively. The humor, while not always on point, is almost always well executed by a stellar cast and good pacing. The performances by Simmons and Hirsch as an odd couple-style duo were fantastic, with both actors giving a layer of depth to their characters that many movies like this lack. Though they’re incredibly different, as we learn more and more about them, they both become remarkably relatable over the course of their journey. Neither character falls into the typical movie stereotypes of “overbearing dad” and “nice guy ex boyfriend”, they both remain likable characters, which makes their journey together all the more satisfying, even as they make a mess of things. Outside of these performances, the supporting cast can often be found stealing the show (which is a huge feet when J.K. Simmons is one of your leads, let’s be real). Notably, Taran Killam and Kristen Schaal play a dysfunctional couple who completely steal every scene they’re in, and when they’re off screen, you find yourself wondering how long until the movie decides to check in on them again and the movie does not disappoint you when they do.
Though the movie’s well-acted and well-paced, it doesn’t do anything particularly new with the genre. If you’re looking for a comedy that’s going to revolutionize movies like this, you are sadly going to be disappointed. It isn’t a perfect film (I still maintain that PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES is the best movie like this and is as close to perfect as we’ll get for this genre). Not every joke lands, but luckily for every joke that doesn’t there are several following it that get a pretty good laugh. The movie isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to. In this particular case, the wheel works pretty well. It’s a simple story, but it’s a well told simple story, with compelling characters and well-executed humor. Additionally, the film takes place in and was shot primarily in the Los Angeles area, so if your a Los Angeles native, you’ll enjoy getting to see the spotlight shown on parts of Los Angeles that don’t typically get a ton of attention. However, you don’t have to be a Los Angeles resident to appreciate the landscape as our heroes journey from one place to another. All in all, I’m glad I saw the movie, and I’d happily stay up all night to watch Martin and Gallo’s shenanigans all over again.
ALL NIGHTER is now playing in Los Angeles and will be available nationwide, VOD, and Digital HD on March 24, 2017.
What did you think of the movie? Was it worth staying up all night for or do you wish you had slept in? Be sure to let us know @TheMovieChickk!
Want more movies like ALL NIGHTER? Check out PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES on Amazon.com! A