Garden Party

Somewhere in the Hollywood Hills right now, a group of miserable people are suffering in the sun. One of them might be like April (Holland), a teen who’s so desperate to get away from her lecherous stepfather that she’ll pose for racy Internet pics, or Sammy (Smith), a homeless songwriter trying to make it in the music business. Perhaps they’re closer in spirit to Sally (Shaw), a real-estate shark who deals pot on the side. Maybe they’re just like all the other pornographers, hustlers, hopheads and scumbags who feed off the curdled California dreamin’. This just in: Los Angeles hates itself.

Jason Freeland’s ode to life in the ninth circle of Hell-Ay works a tired strain of inverse Angeleno narcissism, in which loathing the City of Angels doubles as queasy hometown pride. Worse, Freeland and his cast simply rehash the same old scenario—you have to sell your soul simply to get by—without bringing anything new to the pity party, unless you count a gay-bar courting ritual that revolves around reenacting the “Beat It” video and an emo version of Ricky Nelson’s titular song. (At least they didn’t name it Welcome to the Boomtown.) There’s neither brilliance nor bite to this look at innocence lost. Next time, go Nathanael West, young man.

Release details

Rated: NR
Release date: Friday July 11 2008
Duration: 89 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jason Freeland
Cast: Vinessa Shaw
Willa Holland
Erik Smith
Alexander Cendese
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