You know what we need much more of? No, not love, sweet love, but
episodic ensemble dramas which feature loosely interconnected L.A. lives!
Man, I just can't get enough of those. If I were supreme world dictator, I
would mandate this format for all movies, even Spaghetti Westerns and
those crazy musicals from India. Of course, if I were supreme dictator,
the format would be much better since I would also require all the hot
young actresses to be naked at all times.
In this particular case, the film focuses on the thousands and
thousands of people who move their lives to to L.A. every year - because
their sexual inclinations are too complicated for Iowa, or because they
want to break into show biz, or perhaps just because Iowa sucks and L.A.
sounds inviting, glamorous, and snow-free. Once they arrive, the
transplants need to find jobs, places to stay, and friends they can trust.
Those would not be easy hurdles to clear for mature adults, let alone for
the naive youngsters that move there. Some end up in the L.A. gutters;
others head back to Iowa with their tails between their legs; others
settle into the same kinds of pedestrian lives they led in Des Moines; one
in a few thousand manages to get a big break of some kind.
On the other
side of the spectrum are those who prey on the newbies, and those who
simply rely on them to fill low-level McJobs.
The script of this film weaves together some characters from each of
those categories in a series of vignettes. It was created by
author/director Jason Freeland from some short stories he wrote about life
in L.A. Based on the movie, I presume those stories had little to do with
one another. That doesn't really matter, I suppose, but what does matter
is that the story has no good laughs, no action, no dramatic tension, and
no particular insights. Couple all of that with the shopworn Altmanesque
framework, and performances so laid back they barely have a pulse, and you
get a film that seems to go nowhere and accomplish nothing en route.
That Garden Party song not only lends its title to the film, but it
seems to be sung about a bazillion times. There's also another Rick Nelson
song on the soundtrack. I like Rick. Heck, I can sing along with almost
all of his songs and I never missed an episode of "Ozzie and Harriet" when
I was a kid. But I'm not exactly in the hip young demographic that this
film seems to have been intended for.