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    Sunday, September 7, 1997

    Kitchen Party Canada's answer to the slacker flick

    By JOHN POWELL
    Jam! Showbiz

     Doing time in high school, Generation X'ers divided our pimple-faced group by musical tastes. Rockers, headbangers smoking their parent's cigarettes at the pool hall, the greaseball sleezebag owner overlooking the underaged smoking as long as you fed his video games silver. Funkers, clothed in Michael Jackson-Thriller jackets, hair inspired by Prince's in Purple Rain. And the Mods. Flock Of Seagulls disciples to whom everything recorded outside the Sceptered Isle was bloody rubbish.
     
     Whichever clique you were a part of, everyone had something in common. We were street smart city kids. We detested the naive brats living in suburbia. Their perfect driveways and perfect sidewalks and perfect green lawns. Identical home next to identical home as though a gigantic photocopier went loco. Plastic-covered, expensive furniture decorating front rooms sealed off tighter than Fort Knox.
     
     Timid mice poking their noses out of their holes, the Stepford children toured big bad downtown once in awhile. Downtown. Our turf. Where we metalheads loitered outside the (rock) T-shirt shops which sold posters, buttons, bongs, roach clips and spiked Rob Halford-Bruce Dickinson armbands. Suburbanite adolescents stood out like undercover narcs at a booming AC/DC concert. Marvelous sights widen Bambi's eyes. Trendy hair-cuts clipped with the precision of professional sculptors. It was as if the cast of Pretty In Pink were in town filming. Posers through and through.
     
     Kitchen Party, the new film by Canada's answer to Richard Linklater - writer/director Gary Burns - confirms the "more things change" dictum. Suburbia's cardboard environment breeds innocuous freak boys and girls.
     
     Scott Speedman, discovered after trying out for the role of Robin in Batman Forever by recording a screen test at City TV's Speaker's Corner, plays the spiritless teen, Scott. Scott's anal-retentive parents have gone to a dinner party so he invites his equally spiritless friends over. The invite list includes the typical teen film fare - the bookworms, sluts, druggies, dorks, junior Don Juans and let's not forget the shy, sensitive chick ( Laura Harris as Tammy).
     
     It's party-hardy time! As party-hardy as suburban kids can get anyway. Rules of the house dictate that Scott can't use the upstairs while his parents are out. His crazy, dope fiend of a brother in the basement and nothing can be a millimeter out of place in the sterilized front room otherwise Mom throws a hairy. The kitchen will house the impromptu get-together.
     
     Ghetto blaster cranking out counterfeit Nirvana clones. A couple cases of Canadian beer. The neurotic Scott dashing about cleaning up every crumb and beer spilt. Gee, and I thought Chuck E. Cheese birthday bashes rocked heavy.
     
     Burns' authentic dialogue does tickle the palette persistently. In spite of that, it sure ain't a four course meal. Kitchen Party isn't Hitchcock's Rope or Stillman's Metropolitan. The banter isn't potent enough to support a complete film. To contravene this imperfection, Burns opens the doors to a troubled friend, a loaded gun and a psycho bro on the loose. Playing Scott's soiree opposite the embarrassing mishaps at his parent's dinner party also adds to the rising unease. We understand the two will collide. How or why isn't clear.
     
     There's a special joy to be had observing the teen's sheltered middle-class cave-in upon itself. The wall shielding the fortunate ones from the ugly realities of unemployment, homelessness, crime, poverty and disease; torn down by their own hands. People can erect their gated communities. The human condition carries a skeleton key. You can run but you can't hide.
     
     Scott Speedman x one golf course ruined + a case of Pilsner beer x heavy metal music blaring x a parent for saying: "Welcome to AmberDale!" + the Ultra 2000 Golf Cart - an inferior last half x the tattooed ribbon = Ignorance is bliss.








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