18 TO PARTY: Review

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Original Release: 2019
Director and Writer: Jeff Roda
Starring: Alivia Clark, Tanner Flood, James Freedson-Jackson, Oliver Gifford, Nolan Lyons, Sam McCarthy, Ivy Miller, Taylor Richardson and Erich Schuett
Narrative Feature
Stars: 3.5

When Waiting to Get in A Line, Is More Important Than Getting in The Line

Jeff Roda’s directorial debut, 18 TO PARTY, captures the traumas and other life experiences of a group of young 8th graders in the small town of Brighton,  as they wait behind a building, near trash bins, for the chance to get in a line to gain entry into the Pulse club.

In the group of teenagers told to wait behind the building are Dean (Nolan Lyons) a computer geek. Peter (Sam McCarthy) the rich kid. Kira (Ivy Miller) who is concerned about what is going on in the world outside of Brighton.  Missy (Taylor Richardson) who Kira called Messy because she urinated in her sleeping bag at the age of 12. James (Erich Schuett) a gifted artist of few words. Shel (Tanner Flood) the clean-cut honor student, a follow the rules kind of guy. He really stood out with his all-white shoes especially hanging out behind the grimy building. Important that he kept them clean. Brad (Oliver Gifford) a talented soccer player and artist who is deeply affected by Lanky’s brother suicide.

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In another group are the kids that were allowed to wait near the main entrance, is Amy (Alivia Clark) whose father had recently died and Lanky (James Freedson-Jackson), who experienced the horror of his brother and his brother’s girlfriend’s suicide.

UFO sightings are a big deal to the kid’s parents. And while their13-year old are waiting to gain entry into a night club, the parents are at an UFO meeting, except for Shel’s dad, and that is only because his parents are divorced.

At their age, it would not be too much to assume their parents would have some idea where or what their kids are doing, even in a small town, yet none of the parents had any idea what or where their kids were. James shared that his parents do not ask him questions. Shel, the follow the rules guy, mom appeared to be the only parent that had a clue where her son was  supposed to  be, spending the night at Brad’s house.

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The small town of Brighton is not plagued by drive-by shootings and gang violence. Yet, these 13 year old kids are confronted with the trauma of drug addition, alcoholism, suicide and divorce that can have devastating consequences just the same. Turning 18 does not always give them a lot to look forward to, especially considering they are just 13 years of age and already going to night clubs.

As they so often do, teenagers think their parents do not know anything and are totally clueless. It is certainly the case, with the UFOs citing that the kids’ parents take seriously and devote a lot of their too. There was never a balance between the critically important concerns and issues of their children and outside forces that affect their home, community, and town like UFOs.

Cinematographer Gris Jordana does a great job telling a vast range of compelling stories from the gritty space behind the Pulse building. It provides a great opportunity to hear the dialogue of the talented ensemble of young actors. One of the many memorable lines was a conversation between Amy and Shel. Shel ask, “why would they want to believe that?” Amy responds, “so they won’t have to believe anything else.” Those words go a long way in explaining why people can take a specific position and not have any rational in support of their position. We can now stop asking why? She was asked, why did she wet on herself and she said, “why do people do anything they do?”.  The none verbal dialogue of James who drew portraits of the Brighton Seven, people who had succumbed to the many tragedies facing the teenagers and their communities, that he left on the graffitied filled walls of the back of the building.

Roda captures the sad and grim stories told with visuals of the back of the building with the trash bins, walls full of graffiti.

Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs and music featuring The Alarm, Big Audio Dynamite, Mick Jones, The Velvet Underground and others works well with the sometimes intense, emotional and funny scenes.

18 to Party is an enjoyable film, that goes a long way in telling the intimate struggles,  concerns, and family dynamics of a group of young teenagers as they wait behind the building for the opportunity for what they thought to be important, being   allowed to get in line, for getting in line for entry into the Pulse club.

Distributor: Giant Pictures
Run time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Starring: Enzo Cellucci, Alivia Clark, Ashling Doyle, Tanner Flood, James Freedson-Jackson, Oliver Gifford, Nolan Lyons, Sam McCarthy, Ivy Miller, Taylor Richardson, Erich Schuett, Kevin Daniel Carey
Written & Directed by: Jeff Roda
Produced by: Nikola Duravcevic, Emily Ziff Griffin, Andrew Cahill, Stephanie Marin Production Company: Asterion Pictures in association with Cahill Bros
Editor: Kate Williams
Cinematographer:: Gris Jordana 
Production Designer: Sam Bader
Costume Designer: Ava Lopez
Music: Dylan Neely, featuring the music of: The Alarm, Big Audio Dynamite, Mick Jones, The Velvet Underground and many more

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