Party Monster

on August 29, 2003 by Annlee Ellingson
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In a move that is surely meant to mark the transition from his "Home Alone" aftershave-induced histrionics to serious adult dramatics, Macaulay Culkin instead reveals how very talented his co-star, Seth Green of the "Austin Powers" franchise, is. Based on real-life events that took place in the '80s New York club scene, "Party Monster" stars Culkin and Green as Michael Alig and James St. James, respectively, two kids from the Midwest who have moved to the Big Apple with aspirations of fabulousness. While it's James who teaches Michael the underground culture's unwritten rules (perception is everything; watch out for busboys who don't know their place), it's the latter who becomes a star with his theme parties held in a dilapidated club, burger joints and 18-wheelers. Meanwhile, Michael's initial anti-drug stance soon spirals out of control into decadence -- this is a young man who does nothing in moderation -- that ultimately results in murder.

The performances here are theatrical all around, but in Green's case it works because ultimately he knows it's an act. The character, a struggling writer, is always "on," and, when he's not, there's a real sense of authenticity at the core. When he spends an entire night working on his novel "Disco Bloodbath" only to wake up to a stack of crisp, clean pages, one feels the pathos in his realization that blank pages equal a blank life. With Culkin, on the other hand, while there are moments just as revelatory--"He still loves me more than you," he says to the wife of his disco's landlord, who functions as a surrogate father figure. "I'm so fabulous."--the effect is not as arresting.

Also problematic is the structure of the script, which opens with Michael and James fighting for the camera's attention to tell their tale. One is left wondering, whose story is this, anyway? And, by the end, the story takes a surreal drug-induced turn when a life-size rat emerges from a hole in the wall to reveal to James the truth about the murder -- information he uses to finally write the book on which the film is based. Which begs the question, how did James figure out what really happened? No, seriously. The laws of nature have to apply at some point, right? Starring Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloe Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, Dylan McDermott, Marilyn Manson, Wilson Cruz, Wilmer Valderrama and Diana Scarwid. Directed, written and produced by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. A ContentFilm release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 97 min

Tags: Starring Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloe Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, Dylan McDermott, Marilyn Manson, Wilson Cruz, Wilmer Valderrama and Diana Scarwid. Directed, written, produced by Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, ContentFilm, Drama
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