The Party Never Stops



9-11 p.m., Monday, March 26

For such a potentially explosive subject, this Lifetime original movie about the epidemic of college drinking is surprisingly slow going.

It might be the heaviness of its formula weighing it down because the way this story unfolds is so familiar that many of us might think we've been here before. We'd be right. "The Party Never Stops" begins and (especially) ends with a whimper, even though its subject matter is pretty serious stuff.

Writer Matt Dorff manages only the rudimentary -- the very tried-and-true dialogue and situations to try to flesh out the story. Director David Wu delivers a bit of drama -- but not enough and not the type that would elicit sympathy, or even identification, in the audience. The entire thing moves without much incident, certainly without enough bumps in the road to pull us in.

Sara Paxton plays Jesse, a young woman just off to college. She's your typical hardworking kid, with dreams of going out for sports and wanting to be successful. Her close relationship with her mother (Nancy Travis) gives her the emotional armor she needs -- or so we think.

But Jesse's dorm roommate, Shanna (Chelsea Hobbs), talks her into going to parties at frat houses, or any houses, and introduces her to binge drinking. The tragedy isn't far off.

The statistics on binge drinking show that 70% of it occurs in adults older than 25. But it's still a college campus issue, and other statistics are equally disturbing; the proportion of current drinkers who binge is highest in the 18-20 age group. Drinking excessively is even a teen issue. Unfortunately, "The Party Never Stops" doesn't have much in the way of persuasive powers to make any younger viewer think twice about trying liquor.

Whatever tragedy does occur in the story is so quickly and passively told that it pretty much passes before our eyes in a blink. Although the cast is capable -- especially Travis, who always is believable -- the script is anemic enough to deflate the movie's otherwise good message. However well-intentioned, this "Party" never really gets going.

Muse Entertainment Enterprises for Lifetime Television
Executive producers: Monica Parker, Ellyn Williams, Michael Prupas
Producer: Ted Bauman
Director: David Wu
Teleplay: Matt Dorff
Director of photography: Tony Westman
Production designer: Jill Scott
Music Composer: Lawrence Shragge
Editor: David Wu
Casting: Molly Lopata, Candice Elzinga
Jesse: Sara Paxton
Shanna: Chelsea Hobbs
April: Nancy Travis
Colin: James Kirk