Everyone loves a good party, and the same goes for a great party movie. There are loads of them, ranging from hilarious to terrifying. So, to celebrate New Year’s Eve parties around the world, we’ve collected six of our favorite party movies. Party on, 2017.
Andrew Hawkins on Animal House
Animal House still stands as one of the best party movies and ensemble comedies ever made. The film came out in 1978 when director John Landis was just beginning the best years of his career as a filmmaker. John Belushi was at the top of his game in front of the camera, and behind the scenes, the core members of National Lampoon were crafting comedy gold. This movie is just as hilarious today as it was almost 40 years ago.
The journey of two fraternity pledges as they find themselves in way over their heads has been copied and repurposed for decades. Animal House set the bar for college movies and generations of comedians have tried to capture the original’s magic ever since. Put this one on in a crowded house with plenty of friends and drinks to go around, but try not to get put on double secret probation while you’re at it.
Danielle Ryan on Clue
Clue is the best movies based on a board game, period. Also called Cluedo outside of the U.S., the movie features an ensemble cast of comedy geniuses. Tim Curry stars as Wadsworth, a butler who sets out to expose his employer, Mr. Boddy, for blackmail by inviting his victims to a dinner party. Instead, Mr. Boddy ends up dead, and everyone at the party is a suspect. The group then attempt to solve the crime themselves instead of involving the police, and things escalate from there.
The film did poorly in theaters, largely because of the film’s three different possible endings. (Which ending you saw depended on which theater you saw it in!) Home video releases include all three ending, and have helped make the film a cult classic.
Clue is a screwball comedy with a dark edge. Madeline Kahn steals every scene she’s in, hamming it up as the widowed Mrs. White. She’s melodramatic and short-tempered and works as a great contrast to Curry’s attempts at maintaining calm. Share this one on at your next dinner party, and as long as no one ends up like Mr. Boddy, you’re sure to have a hit.
Travis Newton on Coherence
What if a cosmic event turned your run-of-the-mill dinner party into a reality-splitting nightmare? That’s the idea behind Coherence, a sci-fi flick from filmmaker James Ward Byrkit. When eight friends gather for a night of good food and wine, a blackout plunges their party into confusion. But when the lights come back on, something isn’t right. Our characters walk outside to find that only one other house on their street has power. But what waits inside that house is an affront to the reality they’ve all taken for granted.
On a meager $50,000 budget, the cast and crew of Coherence accomplished something that many movies struggle to do. It wraps you up in a smart, Twilight Zone-esque mystery that delivers profound chills and relatable characters. What makes Coherence even more impressive is that the actors improvised almost all of the dialogue. They shot the movie in five days, in and around James Ward Byrkit’s house. Coherence proves that you don’t need a huge budget (or even a traditional screenplay) to make a great movie.
Danielle Ryan on Can’t Hardly Wait
Can’t Hardly Wait is the ’90s version of ’80s teen party movies. It follows a handful of teenagers as they enjoy their last high school party, and it uses almost every high school trope imaginable along the way. The film also encompasses everything good and bad about the ’90s, from the fantastic alt-rock soundtrack to the awful fashions.
Many of the film’s stars went on to much greater fame, making Can’t Hardly Wait a great “oh hey, I know that guy” kind of movie. Seth Green is hilarious in particular as Kenny, a wannabe gangsta who wears goggles and talks like a cut-rate Eminem. Jenna Elfman is also great in a cameo as a stripper-angel who gives love advice to the forlorn Ethan Embry in a parking lot.
In addition to being funny and heartfelt, Can’t Hardly Wait‘s central party actually seems like a great time. One particular sequence, in which an unpopular nerdy guy gets wasted and sings Guns n’ Roses onstage, is a blast. These teens have one serious bacchanalia, and one can only imagine what their college parties ended up like…
Colette Smith on Dazed and Confused
I wasn’t alive to experience the ‘70s, so Dazed and Confused is the version of the ‘70s I always dreamed of. It’s the party movie where teenage misfits and jocks find common ground in drinking and smoking and having a good time.
The film follows a few different high school factions as they head to an end of school year party. When one kid’s parents find out he’s having a party while they’ll be away on holidays, they ruin his plans and decide to stay home instead. So, the would-be partygoers scatter, drive around aimlessly or hang out at pool halls until they eventually converge at the field by the water tower. The teenagers proceed to get sloppy drunk, hook up, take drugs, and get deep about their unknown futures and Martha Washington.
As with any Richard Linklater film, the music is insanely good and captures the heart of the era – or at least the hyper-stylized version of the era that people like to think of it as. And I think that’s what Dazed and Confused does best; it’s not trying to be some ultra-realistic representation of the ‘70s, but rather show the era in a way that it would like to be remembered.
All in all, I guess you could say this movie is alright, alright, alright.
Danielle Ryan on Very Bad Things
Very Bad Things is The Hangover, only a decade earlier and with a much darker sense of humor. Jon Favreau stars as a man excited to get away from his psycho fiancée Laura (Cameron Diaz) for a few days. He and his best friends head to Vegas for a debauched bachelor party. There’s drugs, drinking, and a stripper. Things are going great until his friend Michael (Jeremy Piven) accidentally kills the stripper in their hotel bathroom. When a security guard finds the body, another friend (Christian Slater) kills the guard and takes charge of the situation.
Things get continually worse from there, and while the party sequence is only a short part of the movie, its events impact the rest of the film. The acting is great and the script is diabolical. Slater, in particular, stands out in a role similar to the one he played in Heathers, only a bit more grown-up. Favreau is a great straight-man, and Diaz is terrifying as his bridezilla-to-be.
Very Bad Things is a terrific black comedy with a party as its catalyst. Instead of playing Cards Against Humanity to figure out which of your friends is the most twisted, put this on instead and see who laughs the hardest.