I stumbled upon this B film after a day of travel. Tired but refreshed, if that makes sense, ready to return to the grindstone after a week of time off with my beloved wife, Cathy. I had seen some trailers for All Nighter and found it to be intriguing, but had forgotten about it, altogether, to be honest. Gavin Wiesen’s All Nighter is a rather simple film, really. Stoner and banjo player, Martin falls in love with a beautiful girl, Ginnie. After a disastrous introductory dinner to Ginnie’s father Frank Gallo (J. K. Simmons), Ginnie breaks Martin’s heart. Three months later Frank shows up at Martin’s doorstep looking for Ginnie who has disappeared. A full message box on her phone, unopened emails, texts that have gone unresponded to, Facebook messages unread all have Frank understandably worried. Determined to find Ginnie Frank convinces Martin to accompany him to Ginnie’s various hangouts to try and find his daughter.
Before you think this is a Taken clone, let me reassure it is not. This is an dry and observant comedy about two people from opposite spectrums trying to find the one person that connects them. Frank is a button down, businessman. “What is it you do, Frank?” Martin asks. “I am in procurement,” Frank whips back. Martin presses him further. “What do you procure?” “Whatever needs procuring”, Frank responds. All Nighter has plenty of very sarcastic kinds of humor and your humble reviewer loves sarcastic and dry humor. All Nighter scribe, Seth W. Owen has an eye and an ear for dialogue in this kind of setting and the conversations that Frank and Martin have seem real and in some cases, rather poignant. This is Emile Hirsch at his most likable. His Martin is a likable goof with a good heart. He has been devastated by Ginnie’s leaving him and it has taken a toll on him. Frank is a cold, calculating father figure but there are moments in which he reveals doubt and sorrow for not being a better father to Ginnie. J.K. Simmons is able to play both sides effectively. Despite his gruff and short-fused nature, he is a good person. Analeigh Tipton is also very sweet as Ginnie. She is not in the film for very much, but she is so sweet that I believed the idea of two people going to extreme lengths to find her.
All Nighter is not a side splitter or a raucous, gross out comedy. It is a quiet film about observing human nature. There are times when this film does lose its footing and the pacing suffers as a result. There really is no question where the film is going in a predictable fashion to its final act, but I found myself interested in these characters. As strange, eccentric and kooky as a lot of them are, I dug what I was watching. I was particularly interested in Frank and Martin, which is the selling point for All Nighter. If your two leads don’t get your interest, then your film is DOA. This is only director Gavin Wiesen’s second feature film but he shows he has the makings of a decent independent film director.
All Nighter is not a great film, to be sure but for what it is and what it is trying to do, overall, flaws aside, it worked for me. I cared about the plot and its central players. The acting is decent and two excellent performances from J. K. Simmons and Emile Hirsch make All Nighter a decent film. I went to Rotten Tomatoes to see the score on this film and was stunned to see a zero rating. To be fair, it had only been reviewed by six or so critics so there is nowhere for All Nighter to go but up. I honestly don’t know what these other critics were expecting. This is not a flashy or obnoxious comedy. It was what a lot of us crave; dialogue centered plots with interesting characters in a believable story. We hunger for characters that are seemingly real and likable, talking like people we know. On these notes, All Nighter works.This is a quirky and oddly entertaining film and that is good enough for me.
All Nighter – *** out of 5
All Nighter – Rated R for language, nudity, brief violence and adult situations.
All Nighter – Run Time is 86 minutes
All Nighter is now playing in select cities, On Demand and subscription services. Check your local listings for times and locations.