Get inspired for New Year's Eve with these 10 outrageous movie party scenes

“Masked parties, savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties” — we've seen them all

By Gary Kramer

Published December 31, 2016 9:30PM (EST)

Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street"         (Paramount Pictures)
Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Paramount Pictures)

2016 is ending, and people are celebrating (or recoiling from) the year that was. While it’s tempting to go out with a big bash, some folks may prefer to stay home and just watch TV. For those staying in, there are many films that have raucous parties that folks can enjoy vicariously. Here are ten outrageous parties for armchair attendees who are all dressed up with nowhere to go.

1. “Animal House”

John Landis’ comedy classic hosts the best frat party of all time. What else are you going to do when you’re on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION? Hold a “Roman Toga Party” featuring “more than two-dozen reports of individual acts of perversion SO profound and disgusting that decorum prohibits listing them here.” Suffice it to say: To-Ga! To-Ga! To-Ga! As Otis Day and the Knights perform “Shout,” you can rock out and roll on the floor in your living room.

2. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is the hostess serving up sparkling sophistication in Blake Edwards’s effervescent adaptation of Truman Capote’s novella. The famous party scene has a scampering cat (named “cat”), a hat that catches fire from Holly’s long cigarette holder, and more guests that can fit in a New York apartment. The model Mag Wildwood (Dorothy Whitney) shows up, gets drunk, and falls down, as everybody jostles one another about in a series of comic gags that are still amusing 55 years later. Unfortunately, Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney in a racist, unfunny performance) calls the police, ending the fun. Nevertheless, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a sure cure for the “mean reds.”

3. “The Party”

Seven years after he made “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” Blake Edwards made “The Party,” a hilarious, slapstick-y comedy. Hrundi V. Bakshi (Peter Sellers) is an inept Indian actor who inadvertently gets invited to the fancy Hollywood shindig given by the producer whose epic film he just ruined. “The Party” features a series of silly gags from Hrundi loosing his shoe in an indoor waterfall to an episode involving an endless roll of toilet paper, and his hitting another guest, Wyoming Bill Kelso (Denny Miller), in the forehead with a dart gun. Eventually, a baby elephant arrives along with a bunch of hippies/flower children, and soapsuds fill the house. Yes, “The Party” is dated, but Sellers’ comic expressions are timeless — and pricelessly funny.

4. “Bright Young Things”

The fast-paced opening sequence of Stephen Fry’s fabulous adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s “Vile Bodies” features a divinely decadent costume party titled “Inferno.” Miles (Michael Sheen) confides to his dancing friend Nina (Emily Mortimer) that the party is “too dull,” to which she responds, “I’ve never been so bored in my life!” It’s “vile,” but a typical, absinthe-fueled party for the Bright Young Things, who host “masked parties, savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Circus parties,” and more in 1930s London. Of course, the war soon breaks out and the party crashes once and for all. All these frivolous high society partygoers are faced with the “nausea, terror and shame” that awaits them. Fry’s film is a sly satire that still resonates today.

5. “Shortbus”

John Cameron Mitchell’s provocative erotic comedy lets its characters’ freak flags fly as they gather at “Shortbus,” an underground New York salon. The party consists of games such as Spin the Bottle, Truth or Dare, and Seven Minutes in Heaven, that allow the characters to explore their (poly)sexual identities (or not in some cases). There are of course, arguments, jealousy, as well as copious sex and drugs and music. A drag queen, Justin Bond (as himself), leads a rousing rendition of “In the End.” It’s an appropriate finale for a film in which the sexually frustrated main characters all seek to achieve orgasm. Life, according to Mitchell and “Shortbus,” should be one big orgy.

6. “It’s My Party”

When Nick (Eric Roberts) is diagnosed with HIV, he decides to end his life before the effects of the disease ravage him. So he invites his family and friends over for a goodbye celebration that is a far more poignant and emotional. And of course, Nick’s ex, Brandon (Gregory Harrison), turns up seeking closure. There is some campy, bitchy humor — “Funny to the end, aren’t I?” Nick asks at one point — but “It’s My Party” is a mostly sobering affair with recriminations and regrets as well as life lessons. The terrific, eclectic cast includes Marlee Matlin, Lee Grant, George Segal, and Bruce Davidson, as well as Olivia Newton-John and Christopher Atkins.

7. “This Is the End”

James Franco throws what may arguably the worst housewarming party ever as the Rapture has just hit Los Angeles. Earthquakes, fires, and beams of blue light kill off citizens and celebrities. The handful of survivors (Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Franco), try to figure out what to do next. They take some drugs, which helps them cope with the end of the world, but they soon come into conflict with each other — especially when Jonah Hill is possessed by a demonic spirit. At least there’s a big party with a surprise musical guest(!) waiting for everyone in Heaven. “This Is the End” may be juvenile, but it is pretty funny stuff.

8. “Spring Breakers”

“Four little girls got lost on their own. Four little girls, they left me alone. Four little girls they came out to play. Now four little girls, here I will stay. It’s here I will stay. Spring Break. Spring Break. Spring Break forever,” says Alien (a corn-rowed James Franco, riffing on the rapper, Riff Raff). The party never ends for teenagers Brit (Ashley Benson), Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), and Cotty (Rachel Korine), who rob a fast food joint and take off with Faith (Selena Gomez) for spring break in Florida. Once in the Sunshine State, they party to excess in scenes full of nubile, naked women drinking, having sex, and doing drugs with reckless abandon in overcrowded hotel rooms. Director Harmony Korine captures the free-sprited nature of his girls gone wild with candor. There is also a beautiful, haunting scene featuring Brit, Candy, and Cotty wearing neon-colored bathing suits and ski masks running off into the night on their way to encounter more trouble. Spring Break forever!

9. “The Wolf of Wall Street”

The excess is over the top and out of control in Martin Scorsese’s comedic true crime saga of stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). The characters “pop Quaaludes like they are M&Ms,” and the office party includes a weekly “act of debauchery” such as Danielle (Natasha Newman Thomas) getting paid $10,000 to have her head shaved so she can get bigger breast implants. Then the Temple University marching band shows up in their underwear, followed by strippers. Confetti flies through the air and there is plenty of bad behavior, culminating in Belfort being arrested for corruption, fraud, and a securities scam.

10. “Toni Erdmann”

It would spoil one of the many surprising moments of this remarkable German comedy to reveal the details of Ines’ (Sandra Hüller) idea for a party with her co-workers, but what can be said is that it is both unconventional and unforgettable. And when Ines’ practical joker of a father, Toni Erdmann (Peter Simonischek), shows up, this outrageous film gets both weirder and more wonderful.

Gary Kramer

Gary M. Kramer is a writer and film critic based in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter.

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