This weekend, we threw a house party. It was the kind of perfect combination of awful carnage and good time that you see in American frat boy films. The house was trashed, we didn’t sleep and when the sun came up we moved the party to the back alley because none of us could deal with the state the rooms were in. There was a broken window, some burnt bed sheets and a floor so sticky that it was almost impossible to walk on.
Why was is all of this relevant to a pop culture blog? Well, when people have these parties on film, they rarely have to deal with the aftermath unless it’s part of the comic relief. However, I just spent today reassembling our living room and picking pieces of broken glass out of the concrete. So, I have compiled a list of the five best house party scenes. Incidentally, they are also the five that I am most glad I didn’t have to clean up after.
- Animal House (1978) – You can’t make a list of party films without mentioning National Lampoon’s Animal House. The Delta Tau Chi House of Faber college are on “double secret probation” after the crusty old dean and the brown-nosing Omega Theta Pi House decide they bring an unwelcome reputation to the college and vow to bring them down. Hi-jinks ensue. Sound familiar? That’s because literally every American college film that followed it took some (or all… usually all) of the plot and replaced the jokes. Check out the toga party scene below.
If you haven’t seen this one, it’s aged a little, but it’s worth a watch to find all the young “up and comers” who went on to have illustrious film careers. John Belushi, Kevin Bacon and Karen Allen (the woman from the Indiana Jones films) all make appearances.
- Old School (2003) – As if to illustrate my earlier point, Old School follows almost exactly the same plot as Animal House with a few minor alterations. Three 30-somethings, unimpressed with the way their lives are panning out, end up (through a set of extremely tenuous circumstances), turning their house into a fraternity. And then the crusty old dean and brown-nosing other fraternity try to shut it down. Hi-jinks ensue.
I couldn’t find a version of the whole party in English, but the most important bit that they manage to get Snoop Dogg (back when he was still Snoop Dogg) to perform… Before a naked Will Ferrel interrupts and shouts “We’re going streaking!” Will Ferrel naked is probably something I didn’t really need, but whatever.
- Almost Famous (2000) – This one isn’t a college movie, but it does have the advantage of being a coming-of-age movie set in the 1970s, so naturally there’s a lot of references to parties and drug use.
There’s always that guy at the party who takes something and then sits there going, “How do you know it’s kicked in? How can you tell?” And then you find him three hours later half naked in an alley-way talking to a lamp post about something that sounds profound, but essentially boils down to “I’m on drugs!” This scene is a beautiful illustration of that.
- 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – This party has the best opening lines in party history. “Oh! That must be Nigel with the brie!” If you look closely, you can see Nigel scurrying in with a wheel of cheese as a wave of rowdy teenagers takes over Bogey Lowenstein’s house.
It’s the kind of party that years worth of 90s teenagers wished that they could attend. Sadly, no one ever seemed to throw one. But despite that, it does have all of the elements that every teenage party (or any out of control house party, really) definitely feature: people desperately trying to get laid, embarassing dance antics (although, I can’t say I’ve danced on a table… yet) and romantic moments blind-sided by the sudden urge to vomit.
- Skins (2007) – Haven’t included enough TV in this list, but this is a pretty fantastic scene. Upon discovering that his mother vacated the premises leaving him with £1000, resident druggie and all-round irresponsible guy Chris, decides to throw a massgive house party. He also does all of this with a 15 hour erection due to a viagra related incident.
While this whole scenario ends a little bit tragically (turns out Chris’ mother has left for good) it does contain a nice discussion about party ratios – “I think I know maybe 20% of the people here. That’s what makes it so good.” I don’t know how it happens, but there always seems to be a point in the night where you look around and go, “I know….3 people. Yes. Good. Now, more wine.” As long as those 3 people don’t disappear, everything is fine.
As fun as all those parties look, at the time of writing the idea of being in the middle of them is making me feel a little bit nauseous. The hangover I suffered at the hands of my good time saw an evening hangover food run to the supermarket (which is maybe 3 blocks away) result in me and the flatmate above almost passing out in the line for the checkout, me almost crying because we had to stand still for so long and everything seemed really hard, and then us both having to stop halfway home because walking was too tiring. (Massive props to our other flatmate who had to go and hang out with his parents all day.) So the point is, what’s good for TV and the movies is not necessarily good for me (but is still enjoyable watching).