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The Anniversary Party

3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 34.28
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Whose afraid of Don's Party? July 30 2002
Let's get this out of the way first. EVERY film ever made is a "vanity project". Using that tired phrase is a cop-out for lazy reviewers. The entire craft of filmmaking is based on "Look at me/us, aren't I/we wonderful?" whether you are an actor OR director, so let's not overstate the obvious. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming's One Night In The Life of a writer-director/actress couple celebrating thier anniversary with a dozen of thier "closest" show-biz friends is quite entertaining. Very similar in tone to the obscure 80's Austrailian film "Don's Party", the main difference being the Truth Drug of choice...at Don's party, it was that good ol' standby-liquor...in this case, it's the eagerly gobbled "ecstasy" tablets that bring out the inevitable sniping and backbiting amongst the "friends" by party's end. The film has a loose, improvised Cassavettes vibe that may turn off viewers with short attention spans. Good ensemble work (for the most part) from the likes of John C. Reilly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals and Parker Posey keep things perking. Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates (and thier real life kids) are standouts, although they are basically playing themselves! The Peter Sellers look-a-like gag is a hoot for cinema buffs. The film is ultimately marred by over-length and one too many anti-climaxes,but Leigh and Cumming should at least be applauded for taking a risk outside the usual Hollywood cookie-cutter frame.
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In 1998, Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh met on the production of Broadway musical "Cavaret" (Alan as MC and Jennifer as Sally) and soon they established friendship, which led to the co-directing of "The Anniversary Party." (Very brief footage of the show can be seen in Jason Biggs - Mena Suvari's "Loser.") And later Scotland-born actor and LA-born actress decided to make a film about their feelings on life in Hollywood; keep this fact in mind because that part makes the film, otherwise a bit dull and tedious, more lively and interesting.
The film itself has little movement; it is rather a train of vignettes, or sketches, about the one day in the life of Hollywood celebrities, and the characters are often unmemorable. But what is most lamentable is that the film seems to wallow in showing wild behaviors of Hollywood celebrities -- like drug use or nudity in the swimming pool -- but we know these thing well, probably as well as Cumming or Leigh. It is the time of the Internet and media, and the tabloids are always there to supply the gossips about Hollywood. And this crazy practice has been kept since the time of silent films, so why should we see another example here unless it is connected with deeper meaning about life in general, which we can relate to?
However, the film offers another way of enjoying it, and that's this. For example, Leigh plays Sally, an actress whose career is, she knows, going downward, and she just experienced a short period of separation with her hubby Joe (Cumming). Now Joe is going to direct a movie, but he doesn't choose his wife as the lead; instead, he cast a newcomer Davidson (Gwyneth Paltrow), good-natured but slightly irritating, unconscious of the pain Sally is suffering.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it June 24 2002
By A Customer
I'm surprised at the number of negative reviews. This slice of life movie kept me engaged from beginning to end.
Unlike most people, I do see a plot here. The story is about Sally and Joe's marriage, and whether it can survive. It's apparent from the beginning that whatever they may think, the marriage isn't likely to last. For one thing, Joe isn't really committed--he's distracted by anyone "intoxicating" or new who floats by. And Sally knows she is on shaky ground, an "aging" actress in a town full of young ones. I felt for her, though I'm no actress. My connection to her character is what made the movie work for me.
The view into Hollywood was revealing: All the women are in some kind of pain, while the men, whether nasty or nice, are happy with themselves. Sad but not surprising.
Other situations I felt were universal. Who *hasn't* known someone married to the wrong person, trying to make it work? Willing to save the marriage with a baby, if that's what it takes, even if the partner isn't good father/mother material? Or a self-punishing working mother, or a full time mom who doesn't enjoy it as much as she pretends, or makes it too much of an identity? Who can't imagine being on either side of the neighbor/dog issue? Or hitting a career slump?
I admit it's a bit more fun to see these life issues wrapped up with a bit of Hollywood glamour: a lovely home, famous artist friends, with movie stardom and Oscars part of the background.
The movie has a fairly interesting commentary on drug use and addiction running through it as well. Of course there is the obvious issue of the Ecstacy use at the party.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good flick but.... March 20 2002
"The Anniversary Party"reeks of "Don's Party",that Aussie dramedy from the 70s where truths spill out unexpectedly, relationships become altered and/or re-analyzed. So this movie isn't original by any means but it's definately a sight better than "The Big Chill",that other ensemble movie that also had Kevin Kline. But where the characters in "The Big Chill"were somewhat likeable, Cumming and Leigh(perhaps by design)have made almost every character the last person you'd ever want to meet. And while this is part of the joke,you can't help but be a bit uncaring about them when affected by tragedy. Jennifer Beals along with Mina Badie seem to be the only characters who're sincere about being at the gathering. You actually feel for Beal's character when she interacts with Cumming in one of the more heavy scenes. Also,as funny and smarmy the jokes were,they still seemed a bit forced just like some of the acting and dialogue. So much so that the Leigh/Cates kitchen scene almost mirrors thier lunch hour/carrot scene from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" 20 years ago:Cates chewing up the scene and Leigh just barely catching up to show off her chops. Cumming is rather interesting as the man-child writer and works well with the rest of the cast,although he too has a couple of scenes where the overacting gets too thick. I felt bad for Parker Posey ,Jane Adams and John C.Reilly as thier roles could've almost been phoned in. Still,I've been a fan of Posey since "Clockwatchers" and "Kicking and Screaming"so any camera time is good camera time in my book. The pacing of the movie ebbs and flows,just like the energy of any other party you've ever attended but the last 1/3 stumbles a bit. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars leads are great..good movie
this is about Cumming and Leigh(also directed the movie) and they throw a party and when everyone gets settled in and having a good time in downward spirals into a dramatic... Read more
Published on Dec 6 2003 by Michael Bolts
3.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood on Hollywood
I am always sceptical of movies written by actors about actors. These movies usaully end up being self congratulatory and too stylish. Read more
Published on July 16 2002 by sebastian hope
5.0 out of 5 stars "You're never too old for a lolly."
Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh did an awesome job at directing and acting in this film. It's a simple story with a complex character dynamic- and the cast nailed it, making... Read more
Published on July 15 2002 by khep
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
So, One day I rent this movie because I had see some a article on it and I was really board, so I thoug way not. but on my god, I fell love with this story. Read more
Published on May 20 2002
1.0 out of 5 stars Must Miss---Simply Dreadful
Hubby and I unite on this one, calling it the worst movie we've seen all year, or in the bottom 3 films. What is it about? Read more
Published on May 8 2002 by carol irvin
2.0 out of 5 stars A vanity project
This is definitely more interesting than a lot of the mass-market Hollywood pap that makes it into multiplexes, but that's not saying a whole lot. Read more
Published on May 5 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Be a voyuer at a very real looking Hollywood party.
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High's Stacy!) is still gorgeous, Alan Cumming is charming. They invite their friends to make a movie about them all having a party. Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by Reginald H. Henderson
2.0 out of 5 stars Egocentric, Neurotic, Annoying Film
"The Anniversary Party" was full of big-headed Hollywood actors and it was not worth my time. I couldn't stand the characters, who were all neurotic and psycho. Read more
Published on April 8 2002 by sbphreak
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow beginning, but when it picks up you're swept away.
I wasn't all that enthusiastic when i put this movie in. And i will admit first off that it does start out a little on the slow side, but once it picks up it is one of the most... Read more
Published on March 25 2002 by Kate H
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