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The Anniversary Party

By turns successfully comic, trenchant, and transparently labored, The Anniversary Party was one of 2001's more accessible "art house" films, a peel-back-the-layers look at Hollywood elite that can be unflattering to its subjects at the same time it brings them down to earth with affection and care that's rare for a Hollywood film. Joe and Sally (Alan Cumming and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who also co-wrote and co-directed) are a married Hollywood couple putting their troubled relationship back together after a year-long separation. The occasion is their sixth wedding anniversary. They've invited their closest friends (plus some abrasively not-so-close others) to their home in the Hollywood hills for a night of celebrating their renewal. Among the guests are movie stars Cal and Sophia Gold (real-life couple Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates), director Mac (John C. Reilly), and Mac's neurotic actress wife Claire (Jane Adams). As drinks are poured and toasts are made, personal layers peel away. Predictably, events occur and things are said to force deeply-held issues. The Anniversary Party could have been disastrous, but the movie stays on the right side of entertaining. What story it has doesn't so much unfold as sprawl, and the best moments are the close, intimate ones when two people are either coming together or pushing apart.

New Line's DVD release features a clean anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) from a digital video source, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Stereo. Features include an incisive commentary with Cummings and Leigh. Also here is the Sundance Channel documentary "Anatomy of a Scene," the trailer, and the script as DVD-ROM content. Snap-case.
—Mark Bourne

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