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Party Monster

Night clubbing

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Just in time for the Halloween season comes Party Monster, with Macaulay Culkin -- gosh, they grow up so fast -- in the true story of the legendary '80s-era New York club kid Michael Alig, who dressed up each night in garish attire so he could dance, take drugs, get noticed and be fabulous till dawn.

Party Monster was co-written and co-directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who made a 1998 documentary about Alig. Their dramatic version opens, post-modernly, on the set of their own documentary, where James St. James (Seth Green), Michael's co-fabulous friend, tells his version of things and promotes his novel, Disco Bloodbath, the story of Michael's shooting star.

Cut to the boys sharing tea, drugs and conversation in bed (they're just friends). Michael mentions that he recently killed fellow club kid and drug supplier Angel (Wilson Cruz), and James responds by having his first overdose. Soon the story begins to jump back and forth in time, from Michael's Midwestern childhood ("the usual story -- didn't fit in"), to his arrival in New York, his first and sweetest boyfriend (Wilmer Valderrama), and his fame-making alliance with the owner (Dylan McDermott) of a seedy, dying nightclub. Michael changes all that with his wildly imaginative soirees -- "Filthy Mouth Contest," "Michael Alig's Pee Party" -- which create a hot new scene for lower Manhattan's nightly freakers' ball.

Party Monster never quite comes together, yet neither does it ever entirely fall apart. It's a sort of disorderly picaresque, with its two game lead actors -- Green's flamboyance is smartly precise, and Culkin is still a charismatic imp -- doing turns that are both disturbing and poignant as they explore their characters' search for self.

We learn in passing that Michael had his first boyfriend at 14, in junior high. The guy's now married with children and won't take his calls. "I just want to be loved," Michael tells James, who reminds him: "There isn't enough love in the whole wide world to satisfy you." But don't worry: Party Monster rarely gets that heavy, opting instead to serve up a big gooey slice of another flavor of American pie. And the filmmakers do it without any sex or nudity, as if to eschew such exploitation in favor of -- well, this.

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