More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

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

5 reviews, 23 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Road Not Taken, The by Jay Seaver

Great Battle, The by Jay Seaver

True Fiction by Jay Seaver

Pick of the Litter by Jay Seaver

Fahrenheit 11/9 by Peter Sobczynski

House With A Clock In Its Walls, The by Peter Sobczynski

Life Itself (2018) by Peter Sobczynski

Unity of Heroes by Jay Seaver

Hanagatami by Jay Seaver

Predator, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Anniversary Party, The
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Dr. Isaksson

"An Exercise in Pretension"
1 stars

Are you trying to figure out what you wanna watch on a boring Sunday night? Then don't go with this. About 15 mins into "The Anniversary Party", a film jointly produced, written and directed by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming, I was ready to turn it off. But I decided that I was going to try and stick it out. For solace, I readied my DVD player's fast forward button and continued to watch. Afterwards, I wondered why I had bothered to be so tolerant. Nothing annoys me more than actors in their mid 30's with nothing better to do but make a highly personal film, focusing on events which probably have never happened in their own lives but hell, why not? They have the money and are feeling especially arty and deep so why not make a movie about a troubled marriage? And why not surface some hard issues like abortion and infidelity? Sounds good right? Wrong... Actually, I'm pretty sure that none of the calamities that Leigh and Cumming face in "The Anniversary Party" have ever befallen these two in their real lives because neither really know how to handle such intense issues with any mark of believability. Thus, making this film all the more annoying and bad.

The Anniversary Party revolves around a married Hollywood couple's 6th year anniversary. Jennifer Jason Leigh (who continues to receive praise for her acting which I cannot understand because I have yet to find her engaging ), plays Sally, an aging actress who is beginning to hit the skids in her career. Her husband Joe, (Alan Cumming) is a writer whose novel has just gone into production to become a film. All sounds like the perfect script for an evening of deep thinking and big revelations and sure enough we get it all. At the offset of their party, we are introduced to a horde of Sally and Joe's friends, most of which are husbands and wives themselves. The cast list of guests is impressive. Gwyneth Paltrow, Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline, Parker Posey, Jennifer Beals, etc all show up to offer some fragments of their lives to the viewer. Regretfully, all we see is a bunch of actors showing us their quirky behaviors and spewing bland lines about their meaningless lives and somehow we are supposed to care about these gibberish upstarts. IT IS AN IMPOSSIBLE FEAT because the characters never speak or behave like the average Hollywood yuppies they are supposed to be and if they do, it's completely uninteresting. You're probably saying to this review right now. Well, how can you be interesting unless you have problems? Trust me, you can be interesting with only one problem or even with none. It is possible.

As the night wears on we begin to see the real workings of Sally and Joe's marriage. Sally's insecurities are beginning to overflow. She is an aging actress and isn't sure when the next job will be coming in. Joe is having troubles with Sally's unease and is trying hard to hold down all the secrets he himself is carrying. But, you know, this is a party and we need to have some revelations and so a bunch of problems begin to pour out onto the table. The party somehow enables Sally and Joe have a chance to reflect on their marriage. (For some reason they never bothered to before this day.) Yet I never once felt as though these two made a believable married couple, nor did they ever act as though they were. The viewer is just spoon-fed Sally and Joe's problems. One after the other all in one night. Pretty soon their beloved pet dog runs off and while searching for him in the dark, Sally reveals a crushing secret she has been hiding concerning a hasty abortion of their just recently conceived child. The scene is jagged and never works for a moment and I just kept shaking my head in disbelief.

Pretty soon there's just one bawling scene after another. A suicide occurs, (which isn't dealt with any grace whatsoever). A guest nearly drowns and has a near death experience, and we see 10 seconds of his hollow, half assed emotional distress from it. After awhile, I was certain that the offering up of so many horrible issues and not properly dealing with any of them was nothing more than cheap plot devices used by Leigh and Cummings to make a 'cool insightful movie.' Well it doesn't work. The scenes are extremely stilted and false and nothing anyone says seems true. The performances are un-involving and the dialogue fails to be edgy or intense. Too much of The Anniversary Party has been done before and much better.

If you want to see a good film based on a married couple's agonizing relationship rent Mike Nichols' amazing film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. And if you really want to delve deep into a married couples life in all it's uncertainties and hidden truths then rent Ingmar Bergman's brilliant Scenes from A Marriage. Or if you want some humor then go for Woody Allen's great Husbands and Wives. But if you want to watch a worthless piece of crap, then rent this and if you hate it as much as I do, don't say I didn't warn you.

Misery doesn't always make you interesting or creative. And it sure as hell doesn't enjoy the company of boring married people. * Star

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/22/02 12:28:25
[printer] printer-friendly format  

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
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  08-Jun-2001 (R)



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast