September 21, 2011

Justify My Netflix: Party Monster

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Party Monster

Today's movie: Party Monster, 2003 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: First, because it's based on a fascinating true story: that of '80s and '90s New York club promoter Michael Alig, whose elaborate costume parties singlehandedly made the reputation of infamous dancelub Limelight, who was one of the first people to even coin the term "club kids," and whose runaway sense of entitlement led to him killing a minor drug dealer while on a heroin binge and then bragging about it to famed gossip columnist Michael Musto, the script itself based on the kiss-and-tell memoir by former best friend James St. James; and then second, playing Alig and James is none other than Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green, something I've been fascinated with seeing ever since the movie first came out back in 2003. (The DVD was discontinued quickly after its release; Netflix just started making it available again a few months ago.)

The reality: Wow! What the...? Wow! It's hard to even describe the collective experience of watching this schizophrenic but ultimately very entertaining film; because while what its detractors argue is true, that the camp value of this film's sets, costumes and acting is ridiculously over-the-top at all times, that's the whole point, to show the kind of hyper-glamorized fantasy world that these drugged-up super-queen vampires were living, the kind of permanent disconnect from workaday reality that led to such extreme behavior seeming so normal in the first place. Plus, I gotta say, I've never seen a straight man get the mannerisms of a flaming queen so perfectly right as Green does here in his portrayal of St. James, a job so well-done that I quickly forgot that it was even Green that I was watching (unfortunately the same cannot be said of Culkin as our main villain Alig, although that's mostly because Culkin's face is just so recognizable at this point); and now combine this with a whole series of unexpectedly great actors in supporting roles, from Chloe Sevigny as the head club kid to an unrecognizable Marilyn Manson as a constantly tittering, overweight drag queen, "That '70s Show"s Wilmer Valderrama as Alig's real-life lover (scene hanger-on DJ Keoki), and Dylan McDermott as the masterfully dark, eyepatch-sporting owner of Limelight, Peter Gatien. It's a shame that it's taken the movie as long as it has to get a wide home release, because its impact would've been a lot more profound in the early 2000s when it first came out; and although it'll definitely try your patience at certain points, I've found that this lyrical, surreal film has gotten really stuck in my head since first watching it a few weeks ago. It comes strongly recommended.

Strangest piece of trivia: Over one thousand costumes were created for this small indie film.

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:53 AM, September 21, 2011. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |