William Nicholas Clay
Stephen T. Canada, William Nicholas Clay
Essentially, "Party Hard" is one long-ass night on the town. It starts with the main character Chandler driving back to his old neighborhood - and meeting up with his friends in a bar, to the actual night out, to the morning after. It's one big party that definitely lives up to its name, with a few spatterings of drama mixed in for good measure. This film constantly amused me because I have friends who could have been the characters in this movie - one hundred percent. I also remember similar long nights of heavy drinking and partying - before I grew into a middle-aged man. Those were the days, nostalgia is a powerful tool.
So yeah, I've pretty much spelled out this film's main focus - but stashed away within the party-hard atmosphere of open mic nights and house parties, this is a drama about friends. Real friends. Long-term bromances that, like they always do, have to endure changes as the people grow up mentality. Chandler may be stuck on his ex-girlfriend, but it's the relationship of the dynamic three that keep this movie trucking along. Chandler, Julian, and Ty - the three musketeers who, until the final segments of this film, are all about partying. But before the end, we learn of the movie's true nature - we learn of the bitterness and sadness that follows when friends go their separate ways. We learn of feelings often hidden away when a good friend runs from his problems - and changes his life goals. We also learn that real friends can be hurt - but just as quickly forgive. We all have our own path to walk in life, and at its heart, "Party Hard" is an excellent demonstration of that fact.
Technically, if you know that "Party Hard" is a low-budget flick going in, you'll be more than happy with what you end up getting. But it's not perfect, and has the hallmarks of an independent film written all over it. Some awkward editing and shaky camera work, and some iffy combinations of stock footage here and there - mainly at the start. But most of that gets forgotten once you get into the film because, frankly, the acting is pretty damn good. The dialog feels natural, as do the interactions with the friends themselves. As I stated earlier, there were many times I could easily relate to the movie and its characters. Well-written dialog, good direction, and excellent talent all contributed to this natural feeling. Well done.
But "Party Hard" happens to be a long film. A little too long, in my humble opinion. But that's the easy way to describe it when in fact, it's the amount of filler that really makes that length feel excessive. Truthfully, any film that hovers closer to the two-hour mark may feel long from time to time. But an indie, low-budget flick gets hit all the harder, and when you add the filler in, it all adds up. Perfect example? There's a scene right at the start of the film where Chandler bums a smoke. This scene was not needed in any way, shape, or form. It added nothing to the story, and "Party Hard" has more than a few scenes like that one. I completely understand the need to show off some excellent night-life - but not when it interferes with the pacing. All the bar scenes, had they been trimmed a little, could have really improved the pacing. In truth, had this movie been fifteen or twenty minutes shorter, no doubt I would have awarded more stars. The pieces are all here; there were just slightly too many of them. And hey, nobody is saying to scrap the footage... that's what director's cuts are for.
At the end of the day? Not only is "Party Hard" a good film, but it's an excellent low-budget movie. It has energy, it has some drama, and it has heart. Although it is a little funny from time to time, not so much that I would actually classify it as a comedy. But for my personal tastes, it just felt a little long by the end. Still, "Party Hard" had no problem holding my attention and keeping me interested. Without question, a solid film. Three out of five stars.
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