18 to Party is set in 1984, as a group of eighth-graders gathers behind a nightclub hoping to get in. The students want to see their favorite local bands. Being that they’re just kids, the rule is that they wait in the back of the club until the bouncers say so. So the kids do as they are told with no guarantee that they will even get into the club. Since they are in a small town that has nothing else to do, they take their chances and wait.
During the waiting period, the group grows to around seven or eight large. You get the sense that they do this kind of thing pretty often. The group discusses how several people committed suicide, all at nearly the same time, though the newest stir about town is that of a UFO sighting, which was seen by 9,000 people. This alleged UFO sighting is such an exciting event that all of their parents are at a town meeting to discuss it.
“…alleged UFO sighting is such an exciting event that all of their parents are at a town meeting to discuss it.”
Right from the first 15 minutes, you get a sense of what precisely 18 to Party is. You know that it’s just going to be a day in the life of a group of odd kids that love strange things. Listening to these people talk is my absolute favorite part of the film. There are moments of laughter, anxiety, and drama. The screenplay perfectly captures the innocence, the curiosity, and the confusion of being an eighth-grader. The back and forth banter between the group, which is their primary form of communication, is so well done that I never grew tired of it. It reminded me a lot about that weird age of not quite being a kid but not quite a teen and wondering where it is I fit in.
Each and every one of the actors was great. The characters all had his or her role in the group. Plus, there was a lot of characterization shown in just one night in these kids’ lives. I am sure that there are many future stars in this film. None of the performances were cringy whatsoever, and the cast were naturals. I believed everything they said and was invested in every second of it.
Although the ending was not as climatic as I had hoped, it did go back to one of the subplots of the film, and it worked in a comedic fashion. And even though aliens and UFOs are discussed quite a bit in the movie, it is not a sci-fi film. 18 to Party knows what it’s going to be, and it does it well. It is like a Friday night discussion that you would have with your friends. It is an absolute must-see and one of my favorite films to review this year.
"…reminded me a lot about that weird age of not quite being a kid but not quite a teen and wondering where it is I fit in."