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Overall Rating

Awesome: 15.09%
Worth A Look33.96%
Average: 30.19%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 20.75%

5 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Anniversary Party, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Greg Muskewitz

"RSVP to this ‘Party!’"
4 stars

The Anniversary Party falls among many projects by actors using the inexpensive and easily accessible digital video to make their own movies.

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming team up for an interesting joint-feature that provides quite an addicting avenue down some fictional voyeurism when actress Sally (Leigh) and her husband/novelist Joe (Cumming) attempt to celebrate their sixth anniversary together after a big break over the past year. As they have agreed to settling down (she’s trying to get pregnant) and move to his place in England, they’re also partially celebrating that Joe will be directing the adaptation of his recent novel about their marriage. (That is a touchy subject since Joe is casting a young, dippy actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), which is a huge insult to Sally, since the character is not-so-secretly based on her.) The whole party was originally devised for only the closest of their friends, although there is no shortage of unexpectancies that turn up along the way (from feuding neighbors to ecstasy pills distributed during the glee-getting). As the night unravels, all of the characters end up running around like turkeys in the rain, drowning themselves in their misery. The idea behind The Anniversary Party was for Leigh and Cumming (long-time friends) to assemble their other real-life friends/actors and get together to play “dress-up” as other actors and celebrities, all the while improvising from the outline they had devised. What that causes is a sense of voyeurism, of sitting through some big, messy ordeal that you hear about on “Extra!” or read in some gossip column or tabloid. Instead, since we get to be there for all the action and spewing, and it’s a sensationalistic piece of clipart. While it certainly doesn’t qualify as “art” on any account, it’s a funny, addictive movie. The actors here are all a lot more talented and well-prepared for improv as opposed to those who were in Mike Figgis’ junkie, shoddy Time Code. Some actors tend to out-do others by far, while some strut it neck-and-neck the whole way. (For example, Jane Adams aims for nothing less than other solar systems and manages to upstage everyone no matter who it is, while Phoebe Cates is barely wallpaper except when she stimulates her face with shrubs while on ecstasy.) The characters they parade around in — hardly what I would call conducive people — still remain a trip to be around for two-hours. They go from one extremity (“You can’t do yourself in. With kids, you don’t have that option”) to the next (“Don’t tell her I don’t breast feed”) to plenty of ego (“I’ve got gravitas up the wazoo”) and plenty of dysfunctional, uncensored arguments. The performers all add their own idiosyncrasies to the role (little things like being kissy, or simple gestures) but they still appear to be having a fun time even while spitting such venom and hatred all over the place. Even those whose impromptu skills weren’t as good as the others, they all had a strong chemistry with one another. Leigh and Cumming, are both good in their respective façades, and while Leigh’s showiness and fleshiness tends to be bountiful, Cumming is hard to accept at times because he comes off as being so gay. (I don’t know if he is or not, but often it seems like it and therefore some of his character’s actions seem false or not right.) The Anniversary Party is one of the best usages of digital video I’ve seen so far along with Arturo Ripstein’s Así Es la Vida because it doesn’t appear as if they’re only using it to throw a movie together onto. It’s convenient and far less expensive, but it’s treated like film. There is still a large difference in quality, particularly when they film exterior scenes in the bright of the day. It falls into an ashy, translucent overloaded image, but there is no denying that its appearance is a step up.

With Kevin Kline, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Beals, Parker Posey, John Benjamin Hickey, Mina Badie, Denis O’Hare and Michael Panes.

[Absolutely to be seen.]

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 06/27/01 18:59:35
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User Comments

9/12/05 zeitgeist Pretentious garbage made by, for, and about complete assholes 1 stars
6/14/05 Indrid Cold Some great acting, but wall-to-wall dialog is very hard to pull off. 3 stars
9/04/04 Em fantastic acting, change of direction midway through, unexpectedly touching 5 stars
11/03/03 joe smith awful. 1 stars
7/30/03 Jake Huge disappointment, wanted laughs but instead, got bad artistic CA nightmare of Cumming. 1 stars
6/01/03 francis An Hollywood introspective - but I'm just not interested in these screwed up people 3 stars
4/01/03 Jack Sommersby Solid and affecting. Flawlessly actedd and consistently interesting. Plus, Posey's BOOBIES! 4 stars
2/02/03 Charles Tatum I was totally into this 5 stars
12/21/02 C3PO they let any old asshole on here? 4 stars
4/16/02 Phil M. Aficiando Watch twice; great work (acting and filming); actors got into it completely 5 stars
4/01/02 Stephen Watch it more than once - it's amazing the 2nd time and tops the 3rd. First - blah. 5 stars
2/22/02 Jason This movie was god-awful Hollywood drivel! 1 stars
2/19/02 Pete Hepburn My Thumb is Up 4 stars
1/25/02 INCUBATOR Beautiful argue scene on the mountain 4 stars
10/22/01 Will Hay superb casting, acting. powerful atmos, great camerawork 5 stars
10/08/01 Mark Davidson Started off interesting, then melted into a mess. Too in love with itself. Paltrow miscast 3 stars
10/02/01 Rutegar Dupree Strong performances from an interesting cast. Seamless camerawork. Great soundtrack. 5 stars
8/02/01 skye edward albee, it ain't. but entertaining, none-the-less. 3 stars
7/29/01 landa wsesw 5 stars
7/11/01 kaitong12 every aspect of a great movie came together in this film - emotion, entertainment, satire.. 5 stars
7/02/01 Thor-Leo A complete pleasure. Cumming trying to play a straight man was the only sour note. 4 stars
6/30/01 ***Super Girl*** yep 1 stars
6/24/01 jake a morality play. sad commentary on the need to use drugs to enjoy one another's company. 4 stars
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  08-Jun-2001 (R)



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