Party Girl
Columbia/Tri-Star // R // $24.99 // July 1, 2003
Review by Don Houston | posted June 8, 2003
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Movie: I've never been much of a club going type. Loud, droning music, plastic people without consciences, drug abuse and a host of other assorted factors combine to keep me away from the self important world of clubbing. This was not always the case, when I was younger (and stupider), I found a lot to like about the desperate (and clueless) women that spent most weekend nights in search of good times. Exactly what I found to like is a bit of a mystery to me now since, in retrospect at least, anything positive from those days was quite fleeting at best. Such was the case with Party Girl.

I originally saw this movie in an art house theatre when it was presented in widescreen (the dvd has been reformatted "to fit your TV.") about 8 years ago. At the time, superficiality was considered a good character trait and most of us in the audience had a good time. None of us cared about plot, acting, or the general level of technical proficiency the director hadn't achieved at that time-she's since gone on to direct the very well made movie, The Guru. The movie itself seems to have positioned itself towards a very narrow market niche in this regard which I'll go into in a moment.

The movie takes a look at a young woman (Parker Posey) in New York City that lives to party. She lacks a job, that's for the suckers, and makes her way through life by ripping people off, treating them like crap, and borrowing from her Godmother (played by the director's mother). In short, she's a posterchild for shallow people and totally unlikable. She gets arrested for throwing an illegal party (to pay her rent) and this sets the movie in motion to show her transformation from party girl to professional.

Well, having known, or at least been acquainted with, a number of people that were of a similar mindset as the people here (generally one dimensional party lovers who dance until the sun comes up in the morning), I can say that the director did an excellent job of putting the clubbing people on display. Balancing them out are a host of supporting characters that are actually interesting and well acted. From the Godmother to the boyfriend to even the club owner, Director Mayer shows us a number of sympathetic characters that have a lot on the ball. She co-wrote the script and I have to admit that the acting was solid.

The story itself is a take off from the classic Pygmalion although updated a bit for a more contemporary audience. The problem with making a movie based on such a well known concept is that most of the time, certainly here, the new movie pales by comparison. The ending was too contrite and formula driven as was much of the rest of the movie. With all the cute spots of the movie, if Mayer had just been able to tie them in a bit more cohesively, I'd be giving this one a much higher rating.

In short, it's tough to like a movie when the lead is so unlikable with so few (if any) redeeming qualities. As a viewer, I didn't really care if Parker's character ended up dead in a ditch or not. For a movie about transformation of self, that's not a good sign. With all the little tidbits that sparkled, the bottomline is it's worth a rental.

Picture: The picture was reformatted to fit your TV screen from it's original widescreen format. Full frame is not how the movie was designed to be watched and that lowered my appreciation for it on top of my revised sensibilities. The picture also lacked detail and proper fleshtones, even the black wasn't true black. The other concerns, including grain, print flaws, pattern distortion and the like, can be chalked up to the low budget nature of this independently filmed movie but didn't help make it more enjoyable.

Sound: The sound was presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo English with optional English or Spanish subtitles. The vocals seemed flat at times but otherwise clear. The soundtrack was jumping (and loud) but pretty good at times. Neither had a lot of separation with most of the sound coming from the center speaker.

Extras: trailers

Final Thoughts: I'd be remiss if I didn't say that there were enough funny bits to warrant a Rental and the jabs at the underground party culture were often on target but the story itself would've been better had there been a more conscious effort to tie some of the major character development points together. The stated explanation as to why the woman changes were weak at best and why should anyone care about her if she's such an abusive personality? For a better look at a similar theme, try the aforementioned The Guru as it's more filling and tastes great!

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