24 Hour Party People (2002)
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Review Date: August 23, 2002
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writer: Frank Cottrell Boyce
Producers: Andrew Eaton
Steve Coogan
Sean Harris
Andy Serkis
A semi-documentary on the life of British promoter/club owner Tony Wilson from 1976-1992 in the town of Manchester, as bands like Joy Division, New Order, the Happy Mondays and others come in and out of his musical experience. A party does NOT ensue...
I didn't know most of these people going into this movie and I think I know even less about them now that I've seen it. This pseudo-documentary is being praised by everyone with a pen, paper and "movie critic" badge on their chest, but I gotta tell you...I just didn't "get" it. Maybe it's because I didn't know diddly about any of these bands before watching it, but whatever the case, this flick ultimately bored me and offered very little insight into anyone. All I got out of it (besides a vicious headache), was that the main guy, Tony Wilson, just happened to be at the right place at the right time (and has zero business skills) and signed a couple of bands who went on to some degree of success. Had I ever heard of the Happy Mondays before this movie? Once again, the answer is "no" and once again, the answer to whether or not I know anything more about them after having seen the movie is "no" as well. The film lasts about two hours (I might say the two longest hours of my life, but that would be cruel) and most of it consists of us following Tony around as he moves up the music industry ladder. It's somewhat interesting at first, and the stuff with Joy Division and their lead singer, somewhat insightful (although I'm still not 100% sure on why the dude did what he did), but most of the time, the camera just moved around like crazy (which would explain the headache) with people coming in and out faster than a virgin on prom night.

Who are these people? What motivations, interests, background do most of them have? I have no clue, folks! The movie doesn't give you much about any of them and ultimately just felt like a "clique" flick, for which one needed to be a member, in order to fully appreciate. I guess I'm just not part of that clique because the film did nothing for me. What's even stranger is that we follow Tony around for the entire picture (actor Steve Coogan is actually quite likeable and funny at times), but we really don't even get much of a sense of him either. He comes off like a funny dude with a good attitude about life, but at some point, it seems as though others perceive him as an asshole (so was he a goof or an clue!). Even stranger still is that he actually looks to the camera at some point (he does that from time to time, which was neat) and tells us that the movie isn't "about him" at all-well, then why the fuck does it keep focusing on you, dude!?! ("It's about the music") Some of the tunes were sweet to be sure (I love the shit out of "Love Will Tear Us Apart"), but it would have been nicer had we gotten a sense of who these people were, why they wrote the music they did, what made them tick, etc... Instead, we're treated to a 3-minute montage of two chaps from the Happy Mondays poisoning pigeons and watching them plummet to their deaths (after which, they kick them around). Neat?

What's even stranger is that the only other insight we get on these doofuses is that they're loud-mouthed, spoiled, drug-addicted poseurs who are apparent "geniuses" of music?? Well, once again...the film doesn't bring that bit!! In fact, the only thing I got from these fellas was that they make the Gallagher brothers of Oasis look like choirboys. But there's more! For anyone who doesn't know anything about these bands, the director makes it doubly hard for you to figure out who is who by playing all of the credits really fast, garbled and in spurts. Most of the time I had no idea what band was playing, what character was speaking and what they were saying (their accents didn't help). My only conclusion after suffering through this debacle and reading all of the extravagant praise about it around the Net is that I just didn't "get" it, or that all the other critics were huge fans of this "scene" in the first place. For me, the film went on for too long, delivered very little substance, offered zero interesting characters with no depth and ultimately just bored the crap out of me. Oh by the way, some of the stuff depicted in this movie didn't actually happen either so don't go believing everything you see in there either. So what's the fuckin' point?! Like I said...I guess I just didn't "get" it.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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