Director Randal Kleiser is so noted for featherweight fare like The Blue Lagoon and Grease that when It's My Party hit theaters in 1996, critics clapped while filmgoers turned fickle. But it's a potent and tear-jerking film if only because of the personal weight it bears. As Kleiser revealed in interviews at the time of the film's release, the event that made him sit down and write the film "was so powerful it became a turning point in my life," and this film is a fictionalized, heartfelt depiction of that event. It's My Party is about Nick (Eric Roberts) a young gay man whose AIDS symptoms become life threatening. He decides to toss a final party before he ends his life and invites his friends and family to this most special of special occasions. But then the ex-love of his life--a Kleiser-like film director (Gregory Harrison) who bailed on him after he was diagnosed with AIDS--arrives. Kleiser called in favors from his friends and they all worked for scale. He said he "never worked on a set that was so supportive." The result is a movie about AIDS that merits a second look not only because it is empathic and loving, but because it's also defined by Kleiser's honesty and self-critical desire for redemption. --Paula Nechak
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