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When the Party's Over (1993)

R | | Drama, Comedy | 12 March 1993 (USA)
M.J. lives together with her girlfriends Amanda and Frankie in a house in Beverly Hills. While she tries to keep her career going, her personal life is becoming a mess. Things start to heat... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
M.J.
...
Amanda
...
Banks
...
Frankie
...
Taylor
...
Henry
...
Willie
Max Kamins ...
Mr. Solomon
...
Stuart
...
Mario
John Goddard ...
Graham
Robert Nadder ...
Arthur
Desi Arnez Hines II ...
George
...
Bennet Condon
Terrence E. McNally ...
David Berryman
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Storyline

M.J. lives together with her girlfriends Amanda and Frankie in a house in Beverly Hills. While she tries to keep her career going, her personal life is becoming a mess. Things start to heat up when Frankie gets involved with an ex-lover of M.J. and M.J. cannot take her fingers off of him. Written by Thomas Meyer <i03a@zfn.uni-bremen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

12 March 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

...E a Festa Acabou  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,531 (USA) (14 March 1993)

Gross:

$3,514 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Did You Know?

Crazy Credits

One more voice-mail message left about 1/3 way through the credits. See more »

Soundtracks

Falling Out Of Love
By Jimmy Hormel
Performed by Jimmy Hormel
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User Reviews

Anatomy of a movie failure
12 October 2015 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

Watching "When the Party's Over", early on I thought I might be witnessing a great, unsung film. But after several tedious later reels the serious mistakes here, in both script revision and casting, became obvious and suitable as a learning set.

The ensemble piece, most notably remembered in "The Big Chill" (and of course its template "Return of the Secaucus Seven") is a difficult film to pull off because it lacks the obvious hook of genre films (which seem more popular than ever with new generations of film buffs) and the immediacy and topicality of a "serious" subject movie (see: earlier Oliver Stone or recent Aaron Sorkin films for example).

This commendable attempt by Matthew Irmas and his writer & producer collaborators falters for important structural reasons, one of which is of my own devise and will likely elicit ridicule from you gentle readers of my critique, so I will save it for last. Fundamentally, an ensemble follows the principle of "a chain is no stronger than its weakest link", that memorable line spoken by Richard Loo as one of the stereotyped bad guys in the WW II propaganda film "The Purple Heart".

Irmas's casting is quite deficient in this regard: his female leads number future superstar Sandra Bullock, in the lead role the iconic Rae Dawn Chong, an all-time favorite for film buffs after "Quest for Fire", and the very talented but failed to make the big time Elizabeth Berridge (peaked almost immediately with "Amadeus"). The guys in the lead roles all do a fine acting job but are comparative nonentities in the shadow of their women.

Exception is actually the main problem: Fisher Stevens cast as free spirit Alexander Midnight, who commandeers Bullock's attention (and that of the audience) with an outlandish, tour de force performance. He sticks out in this film the way that Crispin Glover does in all his movies (and Brad Dourif does in many of his) - seemingly a foreign element that dominates all else on view. For an ensemble this is deadly -equivalent to injecting a ham-bone like Jim Carrey into an otherwise well-cast, straightforward drama (imagine Jim showing up prominently in "A Few Good Men" and watching that stagey opus fall apart under his weight).

So Act II of this movie is ruined by Stevens' casting -his performance is worth preserving for posterity on its own in perhaps a 30-minute short subject starring him and Bullock.

Act III ends up seeming trite and tedious as a result of the Fisher injection, as Irmas & company explode all the carefully established plot time bombs: inevitable Chong/Berridge conflict over their common lover-man; title-implicit breakup of the group with folks moving out of the house and on with their lives; hokey tragedy as in the death of Berridge's Latino protégé.

But the sharp dialog, interpersonal insights and excellent acting of the first few, pre-Fisher reels are impressive and could have led to something more. That brings up my final, basically unwarranted personal criticism. I have been campaigning for decades now on a continuum approach to cinema, breaking down the artificial barriers (many of them created by the archaic delivers of content known as video stores and cable channels -both soon to be quite extinct) that pigeonhole movies into types and genres.

Principal of these ghetto genres is Adult Entertainment, or porn. At the time "When the Party's Over" was made (it bears a 1991 copyright), the great porn actor/director Paul Thomas was routinely cranking out wonderful interpersonal dramas like his most famous "The Masseuse", but they were rated XXX. Irmas's film is fundamentally about sex, but its presentation is squeaky clean, even avoiding several Chong nude scenes in a silly, prudish manner. In an ecumenical cinema world he could have shot XXX just like P.T. did, without destroying his script or premise, and not only fleshed out Chong's character but given the world Sandra Bullock in all her glory at an early age. In our practical world this is impossible, but the movie (plus excising Stevens' role) could have been a terrific one minus self-censorship or any other kind of censorship.


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