Go to Homepage   The Anniversary Party: Hollywood and Whine


Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifNew Line Studios (DVD), ASIN B00005TPLW
I believe there exists some sort of seven-generations curse that will afflict all our foreseeable posterity. Every so often they and we will be smote by films containing multiple whiny unsympathetic characters all gathered on one place. First came the unredeemable Big Chill, starring seven or eight different what-meaning-of-life soliloquies, complete with really nice clothes and a clichéd Motown soundtrack. Then came the (thankfully) far less popular Ice Storm.

DVD: The Anniversary partyNow along come Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh starring, respectively, as novelist husband under the influence (of a big studio contract for the rights to his latest novel) and actress wife down on her luck. The studio also tapped Cumming (who will be here and forever after referred to as "Poodle Hair Man," because of two scenes in this film) to direct the movie of his book -- and gave him final decision on the casting.

We will pause here to give all my fellow writers time to stop laughing. Hey, you, you got a little milk stain on your lip there.

On Planet Earth, writers in Hollywood get to wipe snot out of producer's noses. In this film, all believability sails right out the window within the first 45 minutes. (You think that qualifies as a record, you should try the telegraphing-your-punches record, which I'll get to shortly.) This movie does not really take place on Earth, but on a planet made up to look suspiciously like Earth, where not only does Poodle Hair Novelist Guy direct, but all his friends look Long Beach pretty. Everyone involved with the book's publication and the movie turn out for the couple's anniversary party, including Poodle Hair Man's drug-addled, anorexic sister. Sister's intro 20 minutes into the film must set some record -- gee, can the punches be telegraphed any earlier than four minutes into the film?

Add to mix the publisher, the producer, and a mélange of forgettable husbands wives, girlfriends and ex-girlfriends. None of the trauma gestures (multitudes of these) -- husband/wife laughing/touching gal/guy pal in view of spouse -- would elicit a slight yawn from the average soap opera fan.

Alas, though, there must be several trauma talks. The centerpiece trauma talk involves Poodle Hair Guy (Robert Downey, Jr., meets Coolio) and his wife. Searching for her runaway dog, Leigh comes across Cumming about to get jiggy with some character or other. Trauma talk involves Cumming's mother, the dog, the furtive affair between Poodle Man and Non-significant Girl, Leigh's toilet-targeted career, an abortion, Jennifer Lopez's affair with Elton John, and Cumming's "big revelation" that Leigh's now too old to play a composite part derived from aspects of his mother and various ex-lovers.

Okay, all but one of those is true. Undeniable truth: this film rates an execrable thundercloud.

Michael Pacholski

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