By Ashley Cooper | December 17, 2004

The following salutary note precedes this short, “This story is based on true events . . . unfortunately.” Fortunate or not, real or not, it is funny as hell. Similar in style and feel to “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, this movie follows the lives of a lovelorn loser, his comedienne business partner, and their various friends as they struggle to make it in Hollywood. Of course, none of them seems to have any real talent much less a vague notion of how to support themselves. From a children’s party entertainment company that regardless of the parents’ requests provides an half-assed attempt at a clown and a man in a Spiderman outfit (so bad that Underoos would be ashamed) to a stand up comic with severe stage fright, these guys just aren’t getting it.

I know what you’re thinking at this point. If this plays out like an amateur “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, why not just watch Larry David and the real thing? First of all, at some point watching people who have “made it” and essentially have nothing to worry about is going to get old. Secondly, unsuccessful losers beat successful losers any day of the week. I don’t know whether it’s because they’re more dynamic, more desperate, or easier to relate to, but it’s true. Thirdly, the cameo scene of Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”) and his wife Brooke Adams (“Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) is alone worth the effort.

Though very humorous and well produced, “Party Animals” ultimately lacks a sense of completion. Just as you’re getting into the characters and their downwardly spiraling lives, the movie comes to an unsatisfying conclusion. At the end of the day, too much is left hanging and unresolved. But maybe this is the filmmakers’ intension- to make what is essentially a pilot episode for a series. If it could maintain this level of writing and witty banter, such a series would definitely be worth watching and would bury the vast majority of today’s insipid programming.

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