Garden Party, A Squeaky-Clean Fantasy About "Struggling"
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.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.