Nine years on, the Mac has finally returned to the big screen. As hard-partying, drug-consuming murderer Michael Alig, no less. It's an attention-grabbing comeback, that's for sure. But beyond the novelty value of seeing that annoying sprog from Home Alone taking ecstasy and mincing about in make-up, there's little to recommend in Party Monster.
Which is a shame, because it's based on an excellent book - Disco Bloodbath, former "Club Kid" James St James' lively account of how young party promoter Alig rose to prominence in the New York club scene of the early `90s. Until he found out that, no matter how cool you think you are, you can't get away with murder. And it's even more of a shame since Seth Green's playing St James, because his astute, entertaining turn as the off-the-rails, rich-kid narrator quickly becomes swamped by Party Monster's flaws.
The main problem is Culkin's performance. Clearly Alig was purposefully mannered, a proud poseur for whom superficiality was a virtue. But Culkin never convinces us that he's burrowed under Alig's pouty mannerisms and got to the heart of his character. He's so wrapped up in doing an impression of Alig that he never convinces us of Alig's reality, leaving Party Monster with a hollow (un)emotional core.
Writer/directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato don't help matters either. Their script is often stilted and sloppy ("Ooh, it's a cat! He can be our love child!"), and its attempts to break the fourth wall with straight-to-camera comments are clumsy and half-hearted. In fact, they only accentuate Party Monster's extremely stagey feel. It may be deliberate, but it makes for a highly unsatisfying cinematic experience.
None of which stops Alig's bizarre rise and fall from being a great true story. It's just one that's better enjoyed if you skip Party Monster altogether and spend your hard-earned on Disco Bloodbath instead.