THE PERFECT PARTY

THE PERFECT PARTY
3 Stars
Year Released: 2004
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 71 minutes
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“The Perfect Party” is anything but – it’s a bridal shower where the ghastly women out-do each other with insults, one-upmanship and outlandish behavior. James Huang’s comedy is often amusing and is blessed with a wonderful ensemble of comic bitches. But not unlike many real-life parties, this one ultimately goes on for too long and doesn’t know when to call it a night.

The bride-to-be, the somewhat dull Charlotte, is supported by her bridesmaid Chloe, whose bridal shower six months earlier ended disastrously when her fiance arrived in a drunken stupor to announce the wedding was off. The inebriated ex-groom stayed to devour the party’s cake with his hands while Chloe fainted in embarrassment. Chloe somehow recovered – or has she?

There is no lack of embarrassment at Charlotte’s party, as a guest list of high-maintenance ladies arrive to create chaos. A vulgar and overweight Jewish mother arrives with her quasi-kosher delicacies (matzoh ball soup with shrimp), pushing aside the chi-chi macrobiotic munchies prepared by the caterer, a has-been actress whose glacial personality melts under pressure. There are also a pair of would-be actresses, one Latina and the other Chinese-American, who actively discourage Charlotte from considering an acting career because that would mean “more competition from white people.” A pair of senile old aunts (younger women in old woman make-up) don’t seem to connect with any point of conversation except the call to drinks. There’s also a teenage bakery delivery boy who crashes his car and the party’s cake – the caterer gets to clean him up while getting too friendly with him – and a male stripper in a cop’s uniform gets to shake his (ahem) nightstick. Needless to say, it all ends in comic disaster.

“The Perfect Party” is filmed in a backyard and, quite frankly, its on-the-cheap production makes it look like a glorified home movie. Huang (who plays Charlotte’s befuddled fiance) and co-writer Liz Bolton (who also stars as Chloe) get a lot of mileage out of would-be Hollywood actress jokes and ethnic humor (a running gag involves an unseen Japanese exchange student named Kiko, whose presence is acknowledged with a slightly blurry POV video camera which the women speak into in extreme close-ups). But ultimately, the film begins to run out of steam at the midway point when the dialogue and situations becomes repetitious. The party literally goes in circles, and the late entrance of the male stripper and subsequent male guests isn’t enough to spark any life into the proceedings.

But to its credit, the film is blessed with a fine ensemble who gamely wring as much as they can from their characters and the screenplay. Special kudos to Mary Jo Mrochinski as the vulgar Jewish mother (when told she lacks tact, she replies: “I’ll tact your ass to a dartboard”), Kara Meyers as the caterer, Roxana Ortega and Shireen Nomura as the would-be actresses (they have a wonderful physical routine of crossing their legs and shaking their feet in unison while engaged in an inane conversation), and Depp Lee as the stripper (who valiantly keeps a straight face in the midst of the overcooked feminine mayhem pawing at his uniform).



Posted on February 6, 2005 in Reviews by
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