Night Owls - Can You Stay Awake All Night (After Downing a Whole Bottle of Xanax)?

Matthew Parkinson | 13 Dec 2015 12:00
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Directed by Charles Hood. Produced by Tobias Louie, Seth Goldsmith, and Charles Hood. Written by Seth Goldsmith and Charles Hood. Release date: December 4, 2015.

When we get a movie as honest and interesting as Night Owls, it's time to celebrate. Here is a film that could easily have been a play - and likely should be made into one - that features little more than two actors talking - with light comedic slapstick - that is insightful, cutting, hilarious, emotionally impactful, and so very much worth the 90-minute investment that comes from watching it. It's set primarily in one location, focuses on just two actors, and yet it works so well that it's something you want to revisit almost as soon as it ends.

The basic setup is preposterous, it's true, but it ultimately doesn't hinder the movie. A guy, Kevin (Adam Pally), and a girl, Madeline (Rosa Salazar), have a one-night stand at "her" house. Afterward, Kevin finds out that he is, instead, in the house of his boss, a revered college football coach, and that Madeline is the coach's mistress (he's also married). Madeline then decides to down a bottle of Xanax. Kevin phones the assistant coach for help and is told to ensure that Madeline stays awake and alive until the next morning. So, Kevin has to keep Madeline, who at this point is none too pleased to even still be alive, awake for the next 12 or so hours.

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Simple, right? The film goes through this sequence so effortlessly that it's only when you take a step back that you realize how ridiculous it is. While we're watching Night Owls, all we need to understand is this is a way to get these characters to do things together. Seemingly boring things, like talking, playing darts, talking, fighting, talking, and probably some more talking. Much of the film follows Kevin and Madeline as they talk, often with a heavy dose of sarcasm mixed in. They learn things about each other while fighting off multiple preconceptions, discover things about themselves, and maybe, just maybe, begin to not hate one another.

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