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The Anniversary Party

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

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Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Cumming
Director: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Rated: R
RunTime: 115 Minutes
Release Date: June 2001
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: John Benjamin Hickey, Denis O'Hare, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mina Badie, Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Beals, Kevin Kline, Lisa Kudrow, Parker Posey

Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

When you and I make home movies, they're on a camcorder with family and friends but, when Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alan Cumming decided to make their own movie, they recruited some heavy-hitting pals like Kevin Kline and Gwyneth Paltrow and utilized digital video in the hands of cinematographer John Bailey. The result is an interlude of caustic wit, reminiscent of Jason Leigh as Dorothy Parker in tales from the fabled Algonquin Round table. Jason Leigh plays Sally, an insecure, fading actress, while Alan Cumming is Joe, a "sexually ambivalent manchild" about to direct his first movie which is based on his latest novel. After a five-month separation, they're celebrating their sixth anniversary along with their intention to start a family. In their glass house in the Hollywood Hills, their show-biz guests include Parker Posey, John C. Reilly, John Benjamin Hickey, Jane Adams, Jennifer Beals, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Kline, Kline's real-life wife, actress Phoebe Cates, along with their son and daughter. And they're all trying to be nice to the litigious, non-show-biz neighbors, Mina Badie and Denis O'Hare. It's a strong ensemble but certain performances inevitably stand out. For example, Gwyenth Paltrow as the younger actress to whom Joe has offered the leading role in his film - much to the surprise of wife Sally, and Phoebe Cates as a former actress who gave up her career to care for their children. If all this sounds vaguely familiar, think of Blake Edwards "The Party," Lawrence Kasdan's "The Big Chill," and Kenneth Branagh's "Peter's Friends." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Anniversary Party" is a verbally vicious and venomous, if self-indulgent 7. But - be warned - there's drugs (ecstasy), booze, nudity and adultery on the menu in this confessional comedy.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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