Simmons is Mr Gallo, the ambitious corporate high-flyer who schedules his all too rare moments with his mostly estranged daughter Ginnie (Analeigh Tipton) between flights and business meetings. When we meet them, they’re at an excruciatingly awkward dinner with Ginnie’s boyfriend Martin (Emile Hirsch) a struggling banjo player who seems no match for her overbearing father. Cut to six months later and Martin and Ginnie have broken up and Mr Gallo is banging on his door looking for his daughter who hasn’t answered his texts or phone calls for several days. Uncharacteristically, he’s worried about her. Reluctantly, the heartbroken and morose Martin agrees to help Gallo find his daughter. Their ‘all night’ search begins with the ex-couple’s best friends Gary (Taran Killam) and Roberta (Kristen Schaal) whose own relationship is seriously on the rocks. This begins a series of scenes that all end with a variation on ‘...she was here but left without warning and we don’t know where she is but you might find her at...’ – and so the search continues from one supposed comedic situation to another until we reach the predictable end where both Martin and Gallo will each learn something about themselves and set a new course on a journey to become better men.
This is director Gavin Wiesen’s second feature after The Art of Getting By (2011) but this time he doesn’t take the writing credit, instead choosing to work from a screenplay by Seth Owen who gave us the thoughtful but only partially successful A.I. thriller Morgan (2016). The setup to Owen’s screenplay is promising and the ideas and characters he populates it with all have potential to be funny but feel like they’re a draft or two away from really having the sharpness and wit they need to carry this kind of ‘inner-city-road-trip-cum-buddy-movie’ structure. In the end, it relies on strong and clever direction, which is mostly lacking, and some hard work from the actors to plump up the thin material they’re given to work with. Simmons is most successful at this, but Hirsch’s performance is too one-note to match him leaving the ‘mismatched-buddy’ relationship without any chemistry. Both Killam and Schaal make a good fist of their roles, but their presence in the film is too brief for that to have any great impact. In the end, it’s left to Simmons to carry the film and despite his best efforts (including several scenes where he sports a cute, two sizes too small, women’s t-shirt top with the logo ‘keep it juicy’ across his chest) he can only carry it so far. In the end, Owen and Wiesen should have taken the advice from Mr Gallo’s pink t-shirt. ALL NIGHTER just doesn’t have enough juice in the tank to raise this story to the level it needs to reach to make us do more than smile and chuckle when we should be laughing out loud.
ALL NIGHTER is released on DVD by Eagle Entertainment on 05/02/2020