A little bit of nostalgia for those growing up in the 1980s is what this movie brings: Reagan is in the White House, critical times in the economy, and yes, the recurrent topic of UFOs is not far from the thoughts of this group of teenagers. The boys and girls who make up the group are all 8th graders waiting for the local night club to open. They are not even sure that they would be allowed in. Still, while waiting, they would experience boredom, hostility, and some affection too.
“18 to Party” marks the directorial debut of Jeff Roda, for whom the movie “is personal and much more than I had originally thought. In the macro sense, I had set out to write a love letter of sorts to Generation X. A forgotten generation that grew up largely left to its own devices and managed to somehow end up the better for it. It’s a generation I’m proud to be a part of.”
The director’s personal insight into that generation is clearly conveyed in the mix of emotions: from moments of tension—including a heated exchange over the Reagan government—to times of genuine care for each other. Of course, moments in which members of the group exchange expressions of scorn are very typical in any adolescent environment.
The dialogues also reflect some of the anxieties and fears of the kids. There have been some suicides, there are fears and insecurities. Brad (Oliver Gifford) displays a belligerent behaviour, giving the occasion to others to engage in some violence too. A very typical reaction of people at that age. The girls’ attitudes are also interesting to mention: Missy (Taylor Richardson) and Kira (Ivy Miller) seem to enjoy alternating between indifference and aggressiveness. At times they seem to disdain the boys. In contrast, Amy (Alivia Clark) personifies a sweetness that is not incompatible with strength. She doesn’t hide her feelings for Shel (Tanner Flood) either, who also likes her, but typically is somehow shy to take the initiative.
Although at times, the pace of the movie is too slow, in general, most of the silent moments are very expressive of the state of mind of the characters. And yet, among the fantastic things they seem to be waiting for, the UFOs might be there as well.
“18 to Party” is not the typical teenagers’ movie. However, there is a great deal of music, in the end, there is little action: basically, everything happens an evening in a small town, where teenagers seem to be killing time exchanging a few words while waiting for something that might be the opening of the nightclub or the arrival of extraterrestrials.
Available since Dec. 1 on Apple TV, Prime Video, Google Play, and local providers.
Feature image: Missy (Taylor Richardson) one of the girls in the group of 8th graders waiting in the parking of a small-town nightclub in “18 to Party”
Running Time: 80 minutes.