Netflix A-Z: Night Owls (2015)

Sorry for the later post than usual. Who knew a random day off from work would make things be more behind than I’d expect!

We are resuming our sprint to finish up Netflix A-Z before 2017 and we are at the letter N with the indie comedy drama called Night Owls. I’ve always been a sucker for movies that focus around two people in a specific length of time. When done right, it becomes somewhat of a nice and profound character study. I haven’t heard of Night Owls until it landed on Netflix so let’s jump right in!

Night Owls (2015)

Night Owls

Director (and co-writer): Charles Hood

Cast: Adam Pally, Rosa Salazar, Rob Huebel, Tony Hale, Peter Krause

After workaholic Kevin has a drunken one night stand with the beautiful train-wreck Madeline, he’s horrified to discover that she’s actually his boss’ jilted ex-mistress. When she takes a bottle of sleeping pills, Kevin is forced to keep her awake… – IMDB

Night Owls is a quiet little indie film about two people pulled together “accidentally” however they are forced to spend the rest of the night. As I mentioned before, there is so much appeal for me when its a focus on two people and usually two people who are put together unwillingly because it has a certain level of character development. The charm in Night Owls is one that I didn’t quite figure out how I felt until around the mid-point because of the characters which I will talk about in the next part. However, I do want to point out that while Night Owls doesn’t particularly have an idea that breaks any particular barriers and the ending is rather predictable, it does have some great character development, dialogue and interaction and gradual build of chemistry between our two characters, Kevin and Madeline.

Night Owls

Opposites attract. Its one of the best formulas in romantic films. It creates friction and conflict, debate and challenge to each of the characters. That is exactly what Kevin, played by Adam Pally and Madeline, played by Rosa Salazar does. Aside from having a refreshing script with some great dialogue, the interaction, connection and chemistry between them and the great performances they deliver is what drives Night Owls home. Adam Pally plays Kevin who is a guy with a dream. He is working towards his ultimate dream to be a coach as he is mentored by one of his idols. He is rather weak-minded and easily manipulated and pretty naive as well. There’s a protective barrier around him that he sets up and a side of him isn’t really the appealing guy that most women would be attracted to and it is further implied by Madeline’s character when she sleeps with him to get to his boss/mentor/idol who is her ex-lover, Will (Kevin’s boss).

In fact, this is where Madeline’s character contrasts. In many ways, Madeline’s much more exposed life to facing the real world makes her see the true nature of who she is with. However, it also leads her to making bad choices and not always picking the best options but also not quite having the self-esteem or courage to follow her dreams and see who she is and in Will, she gets that but she also sees Will’s flaws and these are all the things that is the dirty laundry no one gets to see and as the night goes on, she reveals them to Kevin one thing at a time.

The beginning of Night Owls and the reason why I couldn’t quite decide early on whether I enjoyed this one or not was because it took a while to actually connect with Kevin and/or Madeline and really feel for them. At the start, it was a lot of fuzzy and stupid moments and its a lot of bickering and yelling and angry talk. However, when things cool down a little and they actually sit down or move around the house, picking up pieces of Will and they both share tangents or connected memories, we learn more about these characters at just how they analyze the situation and it makes us wonder two things: whether Kevin will face that his idol maybe isn’t as perfect as he seems and that his goals may be actually not too realistic and not quite as he planned and intended; and whether Madeline still loves Will and why she did if she sees all these flaws. Two pertinent questions but ones that we wonder especially as we see that as Madeline sobers a little from her suicide attempt, their conversations become more and more profound and it turns into a  intriguing look into who these two are and the potential they have to be together and actually be good for each other and possibly what they both need. That is the magic of Kevin and Madeline and the power of great performances matched up with a well thought out script that can turn two people who we probably can’t root for into people that we’d choose to root for.

Night Owls

 While Night Owls is 90% around Kevin and Madeline, there are a few characters that pop up. One more familiar to me Tony Hale who I recently saw (but haven’t reviewed yet) in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. He also has these funny moments in the most serious way and that works for me. Tony Hale plays the secret doctor that gets sent to try to save Madeline from her suicide attempt. The second role is one that we see mostly through a phone conversation until the end from Rob Huebel who plays Peter, somewhat of the guy who keeps up the image for Will and tries to get rid of Madeline from what could potentially be damaging. Peter is the person that we soon learn is pretty manipulative and in fact, has his way most of the time and weaves up the lies to make Kevin follow through the plans further emphasizing how the whole situation was based on a lot of lies to anyone outside of what was happening. Last person who only showed up near the end is Will Campbell played by Peter Krause. In a very short cameo, we can almost see through his character as we’ve already learned so much about him and pieced it together through Kevin and Madeline’s conversation throughout the entire night.

Overall, Night Owls is a well-executed indie film with a pretty charming script and even better performances to deliver it and make it all believable. While I don’t think that the story itself is incredibly based on anything very unique, even the ending itself is rather expected, the journey of watching the development of the characters Kevin and Madeline was a trip that was well worth the time.

Netflix A-Z: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl (2015)

Next up on the Netflix A-Z is Me and Earl and the Dying Girl! I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about this one, especially when it was released about the same time as The Fault in Our Stars and a lot of people had mentioned that this one is better. Seeing as I’m not a huge fan of The Fault in Our Stars, as horrible as that sounds, this one should be great! Or at least I hope it will. I personally like the cast so I’m pretty excited to see this!

Let’s check it out!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015)

me and earl and the dying girl

Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine Hughes

High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer. – IMDB

 Some of the best and memorable moments happen when we step out of our comfort zone. In fact, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl shows exactly the bittersweet feeling of having something memorable happen in your life and learning from each other through friendship. There’s a genuine feeling here. I like movies a lot that have the main character narrate the story in a certain way. There is monologues in the background and its something like peeking into someone’s snippet of their journal entry that they wanted to share with you. Aside from that, the characters are all charming in their odd indie way. Whether its our main trio with Thomas Mann, Olivia Wilde and RJ Cyler or Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as Greg’s parents or Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom. They all added a little something to the story.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

One of the most charming parts of the story is the interaction and friendships shown here. The primary one being that of Greg (Thomas Mann) and Rachel (Olivia Wilde). Their friendship was “doomed” (the words of Greg) to begin with. Befriending a girl with cancer was emotional and crazy however, you can see that because they found joy and comfort in each other that their friendship, even at times with more silence than words grew. Actually, the timeline of the story didn’t seem like a long one but it felt like their friendship had a lot of depth and understanding and that is an irreplaceable connection that everyone can only relate to rarely and that is what makes this friendship so special. Plus, it made them both see a different side of school and themselves.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

One of the quiet friendships but rather creative ones are between Greg and Earl who has been friends forever or what Greg would prefer to call, colleagues, as they work together to make films with titles that put a twist to their original and they were brought together by foreign films that Greg’s father had shown them when they were kids, inspiring them to want to make movies. That creates the basis of them being asked to make a movie for Rachel while she is in treatment and in a way, strains their friendship as they struggle to make an actual good movie together. Their friendship leads into other colorful characters like Greg’s dad, a sociologist if I remember correctly, who adds a touch of fun with his foods from around the world, played by Nick Offerman. The other would be the odd student and teacher with Greg, Earl and Mr. McCarthy where they hide out in his office.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Its hard to pinpoint how to show what is so good about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. What makes a movie great sometimes is the subtlety of how they grow a friendship or relationship and build the story. This is just a snippet in the entire life of Greg and yet it carries a life changing force. While he doesn’t learn everything all the time and there are moments when there is insensitivity at times, the idea here is that there is an authenticity and believable factor here about a guy who meets a girl and grows their friendship. The dialogue is witty and charming and quirky. Despite its issues about Rachel and her suffering from cancer, there is a odd lightheartedness to the whole thing that never sits in the sad territory for too long and Greg learns a thing or two through this segment of his life that impacted his outlook.

Overall, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was a subtle development and a genuine story at that making it believable and definitely one of those must-see coming of age stories. Its quirky and odd but just like the movie, my fondness for the movies grows more and more as I think back to it.