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So what do you get when you mix an overworked father, a daughter longing for his attention and a floundering boyfriend? Well, pretty much eighty-percent of all romantic comedies ever made so yes, there are plenty of clichés in play. With All Nighter, it is the entirety of the premise in a film that attempts to reinvent? revive? resurrect? a number of hopelessly outdated tropes in this comedy that throws in a little mystery and drama along the way, never quite making it work despite some good performances and a few solid laughs.
After a brief opening sequence where the lovely Ginnie (Analeigh Tipton) introduces her father Mr. Gallo (J.K. Simmons) to her boyfriend Martin (Emile Hirsch), we learn Gallo is a globe-trotting straight-as-an-arrow meat-and-potatoes businessman and Martin is one-hundred and fifty percent the opposite. Six months later, Ginnie and Martin have since broken up and Martin’s drifted into mediocrity when Gallo shows up looking for his daughter, who isn’t answering her texts or phone calls. The two pair up to try and track her down, following ambiguous leads about town as they form an unlikely bond.
Directed by Gavin Wiesen, All Nighter is ostensibly a buddy cop movie … without the cops, following a highly-familiar formula as it clings to some old timey ideas about what defines a man while it tries to solve a mystery that is never quite as relevant as the circumstances surrounding it. While it constructs plausible conflicts, even if they are dipped in exaggeration, the film sticks to the lights side, strumming along in breezy ease as Gallo and Martin find more in common than once thought. Unfortunately there are no surprises in that discovery as both men realize they are less and more than what they believed of themselves.
Simmons, whose presence alone helps to elevate the material, does some good work, and gives Gallo a bit of sincerity, even if the script tenderfoots its way around some larger issues, avoiding both legitimate confrontations and solutions, instead tying things up clean and neat with barely a harsh word. Hirsch is also strong, slack-shouldered and bearded, making Martin a very likable character. Tipton however is barely there, making obligatory bookend appearances and while convincing, is all but absent from the story.
Still, there is a certain casual sentimentality to the movie, and it seems intent from the start to be entirely benign. Neither Martin nor Gallo are painted into corners, with neither designed to be the good or the bad guy, just two men drawn into a strange situation. At times like a saccharin buddy version of Martin Scorsese‘s dark classic After Hours (1985), the two encounter a string of colorful characters and peculiar circumstances that stretches credibility as it lays out opportunities for the guys to connect. From pink shirts, bar fights, and drug-induced hysterical companions to jail time, they tread down the well-worn path.
All Nighter could have been something different putting more effort into the obvious corrosive relationship Gallo has with Ginnie, and even when that chance does have a moment to shine and give some depth and heart to the comedy, it’s tossed aside with a generic fortune cookie reply and quickly swept under the pat ending that brings all points to a happy ending. Sure, there are some laughs here, but for the lost potential, All Nighter should have been a much better movie.
Movie description: All Nighter is a 2017 comedy about a workaholic father on a layover in L.A. who discovers his daughter has gone missing, forcing him to team up with her socially-awkward ex-boyfriend.
Director(s): Gavin Wiesen
Actor(s): Analeigh Tipton, Emile Hirsch, J.K. Simmons