Garden Party

Garden Party
Directed by: Jason Freeland
Cast: Richard Gunn, Erik Smith, Vinessa Shaw, Willa Holland
Time: 1.5 hours
Rating: R
Opening exclusively in Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Portland

Plot: Lives intertwine in Los Angeles as a 15-year-old April (Holland), runs from one bad situation into another, hoping to find an answer that doesn’t involve taking off her clothes. Her path crosses Sally St. Clair (Shaw), a pot-dealing Realtor whose sordid past brings Todd (Gunn) into the picture.

Who’s It For? If you have lived, are going to live, or just got to L.A. then this movie is for you. There isn’t any preaching along with the sex and drugs … and no, don’t bring your kids along for the ride.

Expectations: None. I lived in L.A. for two years so I was interested. But I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognize any name attached to the film.

SCORECARD (1-10)

Actors:
Willa Holland as April: Playing a sexually active 15-year-old could lead to a lot of awkwardness, but not with Holland … I think that’s a good thing. Or maybe not.
Score: 7
Timothy Gunn as Todd: He’s probably the pervert most men feel comfortable identifying with in the film. Porn is his addiction, but it seems to only lead him toward positive situations.
Score: 6
Erik Smith as Sammy: Young, naive and full of dreams. Sammy’s rise to the top might not happen for many, but it’s just believable enough because it’s L.A. He’s got talent and he looks almost exactly like David Archuleta from “American Idol.” What? Don’t tell me you don’t watch.
Score: 6
Rest of Cast: Everyone is given their moment, with Shaw as the sex pot, Alex Cendese as the awkward homosexual, and Ross Peterson getting some laughs as a cross between Vince Vaughn and Dane Cook. And yes, there are some sexual creeps as well.
Score: 6

Talking:
There was just a hint too much of lines like “everything is so dark, I’m just looking for some light.” They felt forced. And L.A. insider lines about no one riding the Metro have been done before.
Score: 4

Sights & Sounds:
The hand held camera work is done well, giving the film a more intimate feel. And Smith can really sing as Sammy. Quite impressive that he actually wrote the songs as well, besides the cover of “Garden Party” that is.
Score: 6

OVERALL
The film actually gets stronger as it goes along which is always a huge plus. We have to take our time in the beginning getting to know all of the characters simply because there’s a pile of them. This ensemble piece works if you know Los Angeles. After all, it’s very possible for a homeless kid, pot-smoking Realtor, young model and a number of perverts, to cross paths in that town. But otherwise, you might want to steer clear.
Score: 6 out of 10

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