The Anniversary Party Reviews
This is partly a fun dialogue film and partly overly annoying. It borders on both for too long that it sinks beneath its own pretentions.
Sally and Joe, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming have recently reconciled after a separation. They decide to throw a huge party to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary. All their friends arrive and the couple's differences begin to show throught the celebration.
Some decent stuff here, but a lot of the moments feel thrown in just to make things worse between the couple. It doesn't feel like a real couple.
Watch this movie and it will totally make you feel better about yourself. Getting around the fact that this film is utterly neurotic and quite full of self-loathing that makes it hard to really get into, it really doesn't fly too far from the self-absorbed, wealthy Hollywood scene that doesn't seem to quite grasp social norms.
The story revolves around a famous Hollywood couple. He is a novelist, turned director. She is an actress. They have a shin dig at their house, celebrating their six year wedding anniversary. Sex, alcohol,drugs, relationships, the way we communicate with the people around us.
This was a good movie, but so frustrating. I really enjoyed the story and the acting was great. I just felt like something was missing and I thought that they could have ended it better. But over all, I have to say that I enjoyed it.
The cast in this movie is nothing short of stellar. Alan Cummings, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Kevin Kline, John C. Riley, Jane Adams, Parker Posey, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Beals, and Michael Panes.
Pheobe Cates and Kevin Kline are one of my favorite Hollywood couples. So I got a kick out of seeing them playing the married acting couple. It was also great that they used their real kids to play Jack and Evie. You could sense the chemistry between Greta and Kevin, in a real father/daughter relationship. I think Kevin Kline is a brilliant actor, I just wish that had been showcased more. I think it's great that Pheobe and Jennifer ( Who both still look fabulous) have remained such good friends, since Fast Times.
There were some things I would have liked to change in this film. For being Alan Cumming's third directed feature film and Jennifer Jason Leigh's first, I have to hand it to them. The Anniversary party is a good story and a pretty decent movie.
That is to say, half of the movie is about the directors/writers/stars just hanging out at Sofia Coppola's house and tossing back a couple of brewskis, while the other half is concocted in order to give everyone a chance to do a little bit of acting. There is a prolonged, emotional argument near the end of the film between Cumming and Leigh. It was interesting, sure, and they both did a swell enough job of it... but it was difficult not to think throughout the entire scene, "These two wrote this scene so that they could show how good they act."
It's difficult to get into The Anniversary Party for exactly that reason. It's all one big inside joke for the stars that doesn't really let the audience in on anything. Like last year's Rachel Getting Married, it purports to show a simple night with a group of people who know each other, just getting together to hang out. It's shot with a handheld camera, which in RGM gave the illusion that the viewer was truly there among the party guests. Here, it only serves to remind the viewer that this is a movie filmed by a bunch of actors pretending to be a bunch of actors.
There is a plot, kind of. Leigh and Cumming's characters are a couple who have recently been apart, but are back together and are celebrating their sixth year of marriage. Cumming's character is a novelist turned director who is adapting his novel (about the Leigh character) into a movie, starring the Gwyneth Paltrow character. Then there are the neighbor characters who have a problem with the Leigh/Cumming characters because of their barking dog, and the director and actor friends who want to have a good night, but can't stop bringing up the fact that Leigh and Cumming were broken up not too long ago, and...
I saw one critic on RottenTomatoes whose little blurb compared The Anniversary Party to a Robert Altman film. Insomuch as there are several different storylines going on at once that really don't go too far, yes, I'd agree. But Altman's films managed to wring so much out of the simplest storylines, whereas The Anniversary Party is flat and filled with much too obviously scripted dialogue. Somebody tells Cumming's character that he'll be a great director - do ya get it? Because he IS the director!
I wish it weren't so hard to get past the feeling that everything is false in this movie. The actors are all great, but their characters are too generic and the plot (which could have been interesting) literally goes nowhere. At the end of the night, what has anybody achieved, aside from a stirring monologue or two?
The Annivesary Party is an actor's movie. There's little else to it.