True, the world seems to be on the other side of the most intense parts of the pandemic. So why not deliver a comedy about a group of people attempting to come to terms with life during Covid-19? That’s part of the gist of Who Invited Charlie? the heartwarming new comedy from writer Nicholas Schutt (Outer Banks, Chronically Metropolitan) and director Xavier Manrique (The Big Year, Chronically Metropolitan).
The comedy stars Reid Scott (Veep), Jordana Brewster (The Fast & Furious), Dylan Penn (Flag Day), Xosha Roquemore (The Mindy Project), and Peter Dager (Demente Criminal). The great comedic force that is Adam Pally (Happy Endings, Sonic the Hedgehog) plays the befuddled title character here, a college roommate of Reid Scott’s character in the film, and a guy whose sudden presence sets off a series of perplexing situations.
Scott plays Phil, a self-involved hedge fund manager who desperately escapes to the Hamptons with his wife (Brewster) and son (Dager) at the beginning of the pandemic. Stressed out, he’s not all that happy with the surprise arrival of college roommate Charlie. Charlie is full of navel-gazing excess, and also the keeper of some of Phil’s darkest secrets. That’s plenty to irk Phil but get this—Phil’s wife and son take a liking to Charlie.
Naturally, Charlie makes himself at home, and secrets are revealed that apparently are more harmful than the virus everybody is hiding out from. Misunderstanding and hilarity abound. Pally shares more with MovieWeb about the film.
A Clever Pandemic Comedy
MovieWeb: What made you say yes to this project?
Adam Pally: When I first read the script, it reminded me so much of some of my favorite movies as a kid, like Planes, Trains and Automobiles, or What About Bob? Uncle Buck was another one. I was prepping a movie to do with the producer of this film, David Frankel, who’s a great writer and director. But I was physically in a very different state, and more like, Charlie [in the film], and that movie didn’t end up going because of the pandemic. So, he called me and said, “I have this script, would you be interested?” I read it, and it was just beautiful.
MW: How so? What really intrigued you about your character?
Pally: I felt a lot of empathy towards him. I’ve been in that situation before. There have been times in my life, where I’m, for better or worse, the third wheel. That’s a difficult place sometimes because you have to tread lightly, but at the same time, you’re being yourself. I thought I really understood that feeling of looking through a window and at a family and wanting to be in there. I realized I know how to do this.
MW: There’s great chemistry with the cast. What were some things you all did beforehand to make that connection work?
Pally: About a year before we started shooting this movie, the pandemic hit the entire world. So, we knew we had to deal with that separately. By the time we started shooting the movie, we had all gone through a national pandemic, without knowing that we were going to make this movie. And we were well-versed on the language. You know, like, “furlough” “quarantine”—all those things were fresh in our minds. So, for us, it was easy once the cast came together. We just pulled from our own kind of pandemic experiences, and just made it fun. Plus, we got along so much quicker. Everything on set felt like we were a family so much quicker than what I recall on other projects.
MW: There’s something about a group shared trauma, like then pandemic, to really kind of inform you and help you bond with people, right?
Pally: Right. That’s why people were getting along so much during this shoot. It was great.
What’s Next for Pally?
MW: What’s your biggest hope for the film?
Adam Pally: I hope audiences just have like a laugh. It’s nice to have a feel-good comedy. And when it ends, you’re feeling refreshed and hopeful. I hope people can look back on that time—the beginning of Covid-19 without judgment. The script doesn’t judge us for that kind of outlandish behavior. It takes an honest look back at it. We were hoarding toilet paper, and we were Purell-ing, and spraying berries and stuff. So, it looks like that was quite foolish behavior now but at the time, it was deadly serious, so I think that there’s a lot of comedy in that.
MW: You love comedy. What sort of comedies influenced you prior to becoming an actor?
Pally: As a kid, I spent a lot of my time at Blockbuster, taking out every comedy, every video, of every famous cover you’ve seen with Chevy Chase or Steve Martin on it. I think I’ve seen The Man With Two Brains like a thousand times. Those movies leave you with a certain kind of feeling like, again, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, one of my favorite movies. And as hilarious as that movie is, it’s quite sad and emotional. So, for me, those are the movies I try to connect with, and hope to get a chance to make more and more as I get older.
MW: So, what’s up next for you?
Pally: A lot. I’m working again with David Caspe, the creator of Happy Endings and Champagne, ILL, and I also have a Netflix show coming out with Arnold Schwarzenegger, called Utap in a few months. And I’m headed out to shoot more Sonic the Hedgehog, and just working on comedy and keeping it fun.
Who Invited Charlie? is in theaters and on demand on February 3.