18 to Party, written and directed by Jeffrey Roda, is a new coming-of-age film filled with nostalgia for the classic teen movies of the 1980’s. Thanks to a charming cast bringing the script’s interesting characters to life, this manages to be a thoughtful and infectiously fun rumination on the anxieties of childhood.
The movie follows a group of middle schoolers as they wait outside a nightclub for entry into a party, discussing the various things that are happening in their lives. Although this is a very thin plot, the story manages to be compelling nonetheless as a result of Roda’s excellent character work and atmospheric building.
The dialogue in the film is also quite strong, which helps the movie move by much quicker. Despite the fact that the movie takes place predominantly in a single location, Roda is able to keep the audience immersed in the film because the dialogue is filled with humor and heart. This elegant simplicity may not appeal to everyone, but the charming and down-to-earth nature of the movie will go a long way in making the movie feel more relatable.
Some of the themes that Roda addresses in his film include growing up and dealing with childhood trauma. Even though the movie is set in the 1980’s, many of the topics that the characters discuss over the course of the film are still very much relevant now. Viewers will likely find that at least one of the storylines resonates with their personal experiences.
Part of what makes this movie so successful is that the character development is very intricate. It is typically extremely difficult to connect with characters on an individual level when there are so many people involved in the story, yet the film pulls this off in a naturalistic and approachable way.
All of the actors do a very good job in the movie, creating a believable group dynamic that really drives the film. Some of the individual relationships, such as that between the characters played by Sam McCarthy and Taylor Richardson, are explored on an individual level, but it is the overall chemistry of the group that really sells the emotion.
On a technical level, the movie is also quite accomplished. The production design is amazing, doing a phenomenal job of transporting the audience back to the 1980’s setting of the film. Since the single setting of the story is so important, the level of detail in the set design goes a long way in building the atmosphere and feel of the movie.
Even though the concept is simple, the excellent dialogue and character development allow 18 to Party to stand out. A great coming-of-age film, this shows that Jeffrey Roda is a talent to watch.
18 to Party recently debuted at the 2019 Woodstock Film Festival and is seeking distribution.