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2/19/2004

Film > Movies

Party Monster

 

(20th Century Fox Home Video; includes director/producer commentary, featurette, actor interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and interview with Michael Alig; $19.98)

Released theatrically last year in a limited number of markets, this fictionalized retelling of the infamous New York club-kid murder has its moments. But its giddy ostentation and fuzzy point of view make it no more than a spare evening's curiosity.

Macaulay Culkin plays Michael Alig, an effeminate naïf who comes to the Big Apple seeking a social scene. He finds it in the form of James St. James (Seth Green), an old hand at the androgynous vamping and copious drug intake that make downtown nightlife what it is. Financially footloose for reasons the movie can't always explain, Alig and St. James have plenty of time to tart themselves up like the thalidomide babies of Ziggy Stardust and throw decadent parties in locations that range from Manhattan's Limelight club to the inside of a truck. (Having visited the real Limelight a handful of times, I'd opt for the truck.)

A winning way with shot composition and scattered moments of gravity help the movie overcome its early missteps (like a disastrous flirtation with direct address) as ever-worsening junkie Alig stoops to the crime that eventually put him into prison: murdering his dealer. All down the line, however, Culkin and Green do their best to sink the movie with two lousy, perpetually mincing performances. Directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who previously helmed the shallow fundamentalist apologia "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," afflict this film with the same flip frivolity: Watching "Party Monster," you get the sneaking suspicion they find the whole Alig affair wonderful-awful instead of awful-awful. And that's just awful.

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