Mary (Parker Posey), the party girl of "Party Girl," is the Gen X Holly Golightly of the Manhattan club scene. She's a camp diva who carries her club cool with her like a portable ornament. Her deadpan and the sonorous flatness of her voice are put-ons--and put-downs too.
Unlike most of the Hollywood Gen X movies, "Party Girl" actually looks as if it were made from the inside. It's addled and inconsequential, but at least it's not condescending. Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer and her co-screenwriter Harry Birckmayer don't get all anthropological about the club scene; they don't film it as if they were dropping in on Mars.
They also don't overvalue what they're showing us. "Party Girl" has the courage of its own no-braininess.
Posey takes some getting used to. Her bubbliness isn't particularly infectious; it's more like a piece of pop art. And her funkiness is blanker than blank. A little of her voguing goes a long way, but Posey varies the rhythms of her act. Mary is a party girl who works days as a library clerk, and she has her epiphany when, flying high, she files books at night and boogies about the stacks. The Dewey Decimal system for her is like some ancient code; it's a code she finally breaks, and it opens up her life. In a flash of inspiration, she arranges the record-album collection of her deejay roommate (Guillermo Diaz). (He thinks she's gone bonkers.) She becomes the library's No. 1 helpmate.
The melting pot world of this movie, with its wraparound soundtrack of hip-hop and funk, is pleasantly checkerboard. Mary is hooked on a Lebanese falafel vendor (Omar Townsend), her roommate is Latino, her best friend (Anthony DeSando) is gay. The club scene is heavily black. What's original about Mary's coming-of-age saga is that she ends up the quintessential good girl but with a twist. She's "good" in the same way that she's "bad." It's all a performance, a pose.
Will librarians forever have their image changed by this film? Will the literacy rate rise?
Don't count on it.
* MPAA rating: R, for language and drug content . Times guidelines: It includes some boozing.
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'Party Girl' Parker Posey: Mary Omar Townsend: Mustafa Anthony DeSando: Rene Guillermo Diaz: Leo A First Look Pictures Releasing presentation. Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer. Producers Harry Birckmayer, Stephanie Koules. Screenplay by Daisy von Scherler Mayer & Harry Birckmayer. Cinematographer Michael Slovis. Editor Cara Silverman. Costumes Michael Clancy. Music supervisor Billy Coleman. Production design Kevin Thompson. Running time: 1 hour, 51 minutes.
* In general release throughout Southern California.