"To camp or not to camp", or "not having a good place to camp can suck"
Party Monster is a disaster, and we know it right away. Between the fake affected voices of our two main characters and the strange way they begin addressing the camera as if we're in a documentary, then dropping the pretense - it's impossible not to see something is wrong.
Seth Green makes the best of it as James St. James - he actually inhabits a character, while Macaulay Culkin seems to just be playing with his voice. They're Club Kids, doing outrageous things and being famous for being famous. There's a story here somewhere, something to do with Culkin's character, Michael Alig, moving to town, becoming a trend setter, and killing someone.
The film miscalculates though, and attempts a style not unlike the Club Kids themselves - a kind of self-aware hip trendiness, which might be fun and crazy, but is so unhooked from reality we simply cannot see these people as real. The intention of telling the story this way is an admirable failure. A conventional approach would have been more watchable, but less remarkable in the long run.
As the plot unfolds, things seem to get better, or maybe I learned to tune out the grating voices of affectation. We have a lot of familiar faces in small parts, most painful, but a couple stand out. Natasha Lyonne continues to demonstrate her skills as a character actor. I also loved seeing Wilson Cruz (Angel) here - not deep part, but he fits the role well, and I like to see him getting work.
The film bets the bank on its sense of pageantry. The costumes are great, and even the set decoration, but the characters never connect with the space, and more importantly, never connect with the audience. It's too bad, for this material had some real potential in it.
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