Garden Party, A Squeaky-Clean Fantasy About "Struggling"

Roadside Attractions

A gaggle of unblemished Los Angeles transplants face a squeaky-clean fantasy version of "struggling" in Jason Freeland's trivial, commercially calculated ensemble drama (porn! pot! rock music!), which plays like a non-musical Rent, or a faux-edgy Shortbus for kids raised on American Pie. There's the Avril Lavigne–looking ingénue who has escaped her lecherous stepfather, only to wind up posing for an Internet pornographer; the sexually confused (oh, please—gay) male assistant to a pot-farming real-estate maven who also posed nude a decade prior; the unhappily married artist who's lusted for that real-estate maven ever since seeing those photos online; and the wimpy emo singer, so spotless that nobody would guess he's secretly homeless. Based on a series of Freeland's own short stories, each character's through line relies on preposterous coincidences (nearly every cast member meets one another in a more-than-fleeting capacity) and frustratingly unrealistic behavior (who would let a street kid stay alone at their boss's grow house after meeting once?). If we're meant to take these threads as a tapestry of L.A., then Freeland clearly needs to stop watching Robert Altman DVDs and go outside to see what the real world is actually like.

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