Despite occasionally falling back on cliches, this sex comedy has enough originality to constitute a viewing from genre diehards.
The Party Is Over
Few subgenres of film are as universally underappreciated as the American sex comedy. Despite a few critically acclaimed entries over the past couple of decades, sex comedies in general seem to be reserved for the cheap-beer-fueled college crowd and horny high schoolers. Now that’s perfectly fine, but the one thing that consistently seems to hold films in the genre back from greatness is that they almost always rely on the same stale jokes and ridiculous storylines. Only the best of the best are able to try something new and inventive while still remaining exceptionally hilarious.
The Party Is Over follows three friends and roommates through one week in college as they explore bizarre sexual relationships with three vastly different women. Fino (Micky Shiloah) is a charismatic playboy who has struggled to find romance after breaking up with Nia (Michelle Page), an attractive young woman with a rape fetish. Will (Eddie Perino), a stoner with a voyeur fetish, frequently finds himself scaring off potential dates by expressing his interest in hidden-camera-style porn. Perhaps strangest of all is Natan (Kyle Mooney), a filmmaker/comedian who enjoys wearing women’s clothes, and obsessively fetishizes hair covered by hijabs. On paper, this sounds like any other low-budget sex comedy, but director Vahe Gabuchian takes a surprisingly honest approach to the subject matter. There’s still a silly tone to the film, but the issues that occur onscreen are much more serious than that of your typical college comedy.
After a mildly dopey opening sequence, The Party Is Over takes a very dark turn when Fino is arrested for sexual assault after Nia calls the police the morning after a night of rough sex and consensual roleplaying. While Fino and his parents struggle to find a way to prove his innocence despite all of the evidence pointing to the contrary, Nia falls off the face of the earth. Meanwhile, Natan pursues a relationship with Sana (Tamara Dhia), a traditional Muslim girl who can’t seem to decide how she feels about Natan’s persistence; Will meets Noel (Karynn Moore), a drug dealer whose unusual voyeuristic fetishes seem to mirror his own.
In terms of the overall aesthetic and vibe of the film, The Party Is Over feels like a low-budget comedy from the mid 2000s. From the inauthentic portrayal of “wild” college parties to the outrageous nature of the situations the characters find themselves in, and the fact that one of the main characters unironically carries around a flip phone, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to discover that The Party Is Over was produced in 2006.
Most of the shock-value humor falls flat, and it isn’t until The Party Is Over digs deep into the humanity of its characters that it really starts to work. Once it gets there, though, the cast comes alive, and the film truly seems to find its footing. There’s something to be said for a college-set sex comedy that has absolutely nothing to do with rival fraternities or some insanely elaborate scheme to overthrow the villainous dean. The Party Is Over is at its best when it starts to take its subject matter seriously, which is what makes the generally silly tone of the film so frustrating.
At the end, we are left with a lighthearted, unsatisfying resolution that feels out-of-place with nearly everything leading up to it. Nobody’s story receives a definitive conclusion, which would be fine, but the film’s opening prepares viewers for a crazy resolution that just never arrives. Luckily, Fino, Will, and Natan are interesting enough that spending just under ninety minutes with them never grows old, and Shiloah, Perino, and Mooney manage to entertain throughout. It’s just a shame that the juvenile shenanigans the characters take part in feel so much more mundane and uninspired than the more human moments that the cast and crew are clearly capable of creating. Maybe it’s a bit unfair to expect a silly sex comedy to have some profound meaning in the end, but The Party Is Over has the potential to be much smarter than it ends up being. It’s not a bad movie by any means, but it’s just lacking the secret sauce needed to propel it to greatness.
Despite carrying its fair share of flaws, The Party Is Over brings enough new aspects to the table to warrant a viewing from fans of college comedies and quirky films about sexual exploration.