Party Monster

Party Monster

2.0 out of 52.0 out of 52.0 out of 52.0 out of 5 2.0

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After a nine-year acting hiatus, documentary filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato resuscitate Home Alone whiner Macaulay Culkin as screaming queen and club kid killer Michael Alig for their Party Monster dud. Because the film is most likely to appeal to those who’ve rubbed shoulders with Alig or K-Holed numerous nights away at Peter Gatien’s church of sin, it’s that more disappointing that Bailey and Barbato’s evocation of Limelight’s debaucherous hey-day is so tame. As Alig, Culkin makes a complete embarrassment of himself, but the true horror of his performance is felt most whenever he shares screen time with the incredible Seth Green, who stars as James St. James, Alig’s muse and bitchy confidante. Culkin’s gay preening brings to mind a robotic Madonna trying to telegraph British class. Like Madonna, a young Alig comes to New York with big dreams, but while Alig’s many successes and failures would create their own culture wars, it’s difficult to come away from Party Monster with any kind of understanding of Alig’s need to be fabulous—not least of which because the film’s crummy aesthetic is so far from fabulous itself. James is a whore for enunciation, and in Green’s countless bitchy tirades (check out the killer etiquette performance he puts on for Culkin at a fast-food donut dive) the directors tap into the frustrated writer’s attempts to translate his natural-born cattiness into something more meaningful than shallow nights at Limelight. Because Party Monster is based on James’s book Disco Bloodbath, it’s probably no surprise that Green’s part is the most grounded. Bailey and Barbato bookend the film with self-conscious conceits that further muddle the film’s already un-authoritative tone. In the bizarre but fascinating appearance of a rat-cum-eyewitness to Angel’s death, the filmmakers seem to acknowledge that there’s no way of truly guesstimating Alig’s pathology. But that this curious bit of meta-business doesn’t get much play ultimately suggests that the filmmakers are merely trying to find an excuse for their one-dimensional protagonist. And as such, it’s very easy to imagine a better film with James in the lead and Alig in his periphery.

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DVD | Soundtrack
Distributor
Strand Releasing
Runtime
98 min
Rating
R
Year
2003
Director
Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Screenwriter
Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Cast
Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloë Sevigny, Wilson Cruz, Natasha Lyonne, Wilmer Valderrama, Marilyn Manson, Dylan McDermott, Diana Scarwid