The word party, by it's very nature, implies that you're gonna have a good time. Just think about how we use that word. "Lets partttttyyyyy!!!" In fact, "party" is more of a term than it is a word. How many times have we heard someone say, "We're gonna party"? Now, if you take that term and pair it with a movie, you have something special indeed.
If you can take a movie and convey the frenzied energy of a party, you have that rare mix of comedy gold and spontaneity that can't be contained. In fact, the right party movie, whether it takes place all in one night or over a few days, can be watched multiple times. In fact, the best of these movies elicit a certain warmth that not even the most milquetoast of offerings can dredge up.
At their best, party movies are a true window into our souls. Like porn, they play to our deepest desires. We all want to have one night of total and complete carelessly abandoned fun. We want to be the person who gets the girl of their dreams, or has an encounter that we have only otherwise dreamed about. Simply put, we want to party.
So whether we are celebrating the night before somebody gets married, a high school party gone way too far, or even a party where things go terribly wrong... As long as there is a good time involved, that is okay. This is what puts party movies into such a class by themselves. They can be serious one moment, then become pinnacles of buffoonery the next. Or, they can perfectly show us multiple alcohol laden moments, and suddenly a guy with an axe shows up and it's every man and woman for themselves.
The best part? Party movies can simply be movies about the build-up to a party. That journey of actually getting to "party," is its own reward. So, it is with great excitement that we bring you "The 17 Best Party Movies of All Time"! So kick up your heels, crack one open and prepare to party down!
This 1984 offering is probably the perfect template for a party movie. Tom Hanks plays a lovable lout who is about to marry Tawny Kitaen. However, the night before this all goes down, our main character is taken out by his best pal (played to perfection by Adrian Zmed) and his bros for one last night of freedom. Factor in that our lead has a father who wants to see this wedding not happen, and an ex-boyfriend who is willing to make that a reality, and this film turns into an odyssey of butts, breasts, laughter and just about everything else in between.
While a lot of people probably feel that this film is numero uno on a list like this, we say that if it isn't, it certainly holds a slot close to that position. This high school tale of two guys (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) trying to create a space for themselves at the party of the year, is a gem because it perfectly mixes fantasy and reality. Not only do they get and not get the girls and then get them again, they learn something truly special about the meaning of friendship. So perfect is Superbad, so much can men and women empathize with all the characters in this film, that it actually rises above being a "party movie" to become art.
The best, perhaps the greatest thing about Animal House is that it doesn't really have a plot. Sure, there's that beef with the rival, uptight fraternity, but this movie is literally one party after the next. Featuring John Belushi in a role that isn't quite the star but more of a supporting player, this party film paved the way for many that followed. Featuring a host of actors who would go on to be strong supporting players within the Hollywood infrastructure, Animal House is as important as it is crude. Having made over $140 million on what had to be a pretty paltry budget, this film clearly demonstrates how much people wanna party.
Risky Business is that perfect movie magic trick. It was sold in trailers and in one sheets as a party movie. And, Risky Business is that, but not in the way that one might think. Set to tunes of Tangerine Dream's moody score, this film is an honest to goodness coming of age story. Like a lot of party movies, the film is a cautionary tale of an all American boy (Tom Cruise) wanting to have a great future, and ultimately realizing that he can get their in many different ways. That he comes to understand that by becoming the neighborhood pimp is even more evidence of the party movie's ability to twist and invert on itself.
The Slumber Party Massacre
This tale from producer Roger Corman is your classic party movie gone awry. The plot is simple, a deranged man with a power drill shows up at a pajama party and basically says "the party's over." Of course, the story isn't as simple as that, but this tale of blood, babes, and early 1980s frolicking is, in many ways, the perfect merging of horror and partying. Director Amy Holden actually took this script and shot about 7 minutes of it for $7000. From there, she showed it to Roger Corman (who owned the property), and suddenly she found herself directing this groundbreaking tale for $250,000.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's parents are selling their family home. They have one weekend to clean it out and take all their personal effects. So, they decide to throw one final party to commemorate this. What starts off as good time, soon gets out of hand, as this last rager might effect this home's prospects of being sold at all. So, here we have the plot of something ending and the party being the capstone of that. Another thing that makes party movies fun is how by their very careless nature, they effect very real world things. This is a problem because... Let's be honest, nobody wants to have to think about anything real when they're partying down.
21 and Over
One of the better recent party movies is a fast paced romp across a college campus that's almost too much fun to handle! Straight-A college student Jeff Chang has always done what's been expected of him. But when his two best friends, Miller and Casey, arrive on campus to surprise him for his 21st birthday, Jeff finally agrees to cut loose. Although he has a crucial med-school interview early the next morning, Jeff lets his pals take him out for one drink. Many drinks later, Jeff has blacked out and is in danger of blowing the most important day of his life. We were going to put Cloverfield in this slot, then we came to our sense.
Can't Hardly Wait
In 1998, my generation NEEDED Can't Hardly Wait. In short, this is a tale of a graduating class, from football stars and cool girls to complete nerds, gathering at a wealthy classmate's home for a major blowout. Like the John Hughes movies that this film is aping, it pits types against types to show how we can all exist in this world. From the artistic Preston (Ethan Embry) going after hot Amanda (Jennifer Love Hewitt), to Dorky William (Charlie Korsmo) scheming to pay back meathead Mike (Peter Facinelli) for years of bullying, this movie fires on all cylinders. It may not be as gnarly as Project X, but Can't Hardly Wait shows us that at any age a good party is needed.
Made for $2.5 million and grossing over 10 times that (not counting home video), House Party was ground breaking because it allowed white teens like myself to see a party from a black teens perspective. Kid is invited to a party at Play's house. Things get rough when Kid gets grounded for fighting at school. With no other choice, Kid sneaks out of the house after his father has gone to bed. What follows is an out of this world party and a heartfelt coming of age story all in one. Director Reginald Hudlin has gone on to direct a host of movies and TV shows, but it is with House Party that he seems to be having the best time.
This is the End
Brought to us by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the idea behind this film seemed to be the party film to, no pun intended, end all party films. Some people loved this zany romp/in-joke between Hollywood's funny crew, and others found it all a little too over the top. Honestly, get over it! This is a party movie for crying out loud. Basically, James Franco is throwing a huge shin-dig (with guest like Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson), and suddenly an apocalypse happens and carnage ensues. Our happy go-lucky guys are trapped in Franco's pad in a fight for survival. As we stated earlier, if you want to laugh and potentially choke on food, grab your friends, some pizza, and watch this epic party of a movie.
This is a party movie on steroids. The story is the classic party set up...Three anonymous high-school seniors are determined to make their mark so they throw an epic party. And from there this movie starts off at 10 mph, it increases pretty darn quick to 60 mph and at one point it hits 150 and just goes up from there. Such is the nature of party movies. This film is filled with hot girls, hot guys, out of this world pranks, ludicrous uncomfortable scenes and just about everything in between. While not as talked about as some of the other films on this list, if you went to the party in this film you would NEVER forget it.
Weird Science is a brilliant, brilliant film. That it also happens to be one heck of a party film says a lot about its versatility and it's brilliance. Gary and Wyatt (Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith) have zero game. So they use their computer to create a girl (remember this was the 1980s, people). It works and suddenly Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), the girl of their dreams, is making their lives a lot more interesting. Which all leads up to a big party where Gary and Wyatt confront their bullies AND get the girls they've always longed for. Now you may ask, "Is this really a party movie?" Look, when the whole movie feels like a party, as Weird Science does, gosh darn it, that makes it a party movie.Also, the last third of the mvid takes place at a party! So, duh!
Like Project X before it, The Hangover is unabashedly a party movie. Four friends head out to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. One of them goes missing, and the film becomes a scavenger hunt because the friend that's missing is getting married in a few days. Alright, it isn't like every frame in this movie is filled with party antics. However, when you're set in the City of Sin (for a bachelor party no less), how in the world can The Hangover not be a party movie?
While trying to tie his shoe, bumbling extra Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers) unwittingly triggers explosives that destroy the set of an epic war film. The furious director tells executive Fred Clutterbuck (J. Edward McKinley) to fire him. Because of a misunderstanding, Bakshi instead mistakenly receives an invitation to an exclusive party at Clutterbuck's Hollywood mansion, where he proceeds to wreak havoc on party goers as he stumbles through what will become the wildest night he's ever seen. Alright, this is an old film but that is what makes it a party movie. The fact that we have the legendary Peter Sellers in the mix only adds to this film's party appeal. Times change, people change, but the desire to party never goes out of style.
Dazed and Confused
What would a party movie be without those moments that give us pause and make us think about what it means to be human? Dazed and Confused is a good time all the way around. The best part about this coming of age drama, set in 1976, is how effortlessly it moves in and out between genres. This tale of teenagers celebrating the glorious start of summer vacation is part Breakfast Club, part Midnight Madness, part Over The Edge but always, always... A party.
What really makes Sixteen Candles so special and refreshing is the fact that it is told from the perspective of a girl. When Samantha (Molly Ringwald) has her birthday overshadowed by her sister's wedding, little does she know that might be the best thing to happen to her that day. The boy she loves doesn't know she exists, and the only guy that likes her is the school nerd. Aside from all of this, Samantha's life is great. I know what you're thinking...Where's the party? That is where this film's brilliance reveals itself. Amidst this hilarious, young adult offering from John Hughes, there is a party that goes down. It doesn't even take up a quarter of the movie, but so powerful is it's partying nature that Samantha has her life overshadowed yet again.
The name says it all, right? When two brothers gets their butts kicked at a top secret beerfest in Germany, they come to the states and, in true American fashion, return to make things right. What ensues is a bevy of scenes which, in one way or another, feature beer being consumed. This movie might be the dark horse contender for the ultimate party film. Brought to us from the Broken Lizard comedy troupe, the only thing that is sacred in this movie is hops and ale. While maybe not making it anyone's Top 10 party movie list, that's why this party movie list goes to 17!
How you feeling? You all partied out? Did our list make you want to call up some old friends and have a bash? Did we miss a party? Was our movie guest list a little short? Let us know!