Night of the White Pants
Photos and Video
Drugs, trophy wives, a moose head, and a horny bride-to-be all come crashing together in this quirky family dramedy. The plot unfolds in the Hagen mansion on a breezy summer day in Dallas, Texas. CEO and absentee father extraordinaire Max Hagen is lying in bed, quietly contemplating how he managed to sell his multi-million dollar company, lose his HTW (Dallas-speak for "Hot Trophy Wife"), and allow his drug-addled son Millian (pronounced "million") to move back in. By all accounts, Hagen's life is falling to pieces, but when he begrudgingly agrees to meet his successful daughter Beth's (Selma Blair) punk-rock boyfriend Raff (Nick Stahl), his life suddenly takes an enchanting turn for the worse. Over dinner, a high-strung Beth and a high-on-Xanax Millian start a sibling fight in which Millian exposes the fact that Raff is a drug dealer. Before the family even has time to digest this information, Max's latest ex-wife waltzes into the house with an eviction notice. Everyone clears out, leaving Max and Raff to fend for themselves. What follows is an unbelievable evening of robberies, raunchy escapades, and revelations. When the air clears in the morning and Max and Raff are finally released from jail, the two unlikely partners-in-crime are somehow able to face their separate failures together and find strength in each other's shortcomings. The Night of the White Pants combines the tawdry glitz of Dynasty with the zany humor of Arrested Development to create a hilarious and oddly touching homage to dysfunctional families.
Director's Statement Collapse
After years of mining my dark side (in my short films Number One Fan and Second Skin), I discovered that I would rather express the darkness with light. It has been said that "comedy is tragedy plus time," so I guess it was just a matter of time until I was able to view my own experiences through this prism. Ultimately, The Night of the White Pants is a comedy about Max Hagan (Tom Wilkinson) and his family. It is about a man who thinks he has controlled everything in his life and discovers that he controls nothing. I liked the idea of throwing a man like this into the chaotic world of punk rock. How would the cultures clash? How would the comedy build? And ultimately, how would embracing the "sweet sound of chaos" bring Max back to the family he had nearly lost? First off, I felt that I needed performances grounded in reality. I knew it'd be much more relatable (and much more funny) to see a somewhat grounded Max tossed into this surreal night. So, rather than casting strictly "comic" actors, I went after actors that could bring me the real, and I trusted that the comedy would follow. Though we were setting out to make a comedy, I did not want to abandon the visual language that is so important to me as a filmmaker. Jim Denault (my cinematographer), Regina O'Brien (my production designer), and I worked very hard to serve the story and Max's arc with the visual. For example, Max, Raff, and Beth are each introduced indoors, trapped amid their own personal kind of chaos. However, the two most emotionally enlightened characters, Lolly and Vivian, are introduced in more peaceful interiors, with clear images of nature around them. These distinctions are subtle, but I think they help us to begin to understand these characters, however subconsciously. As the night progresses, the story grows more and more surreal. I tried to implement this in all aspects of the filmmaking. The camera, the art direction, the editing, and even the performances take a turn. They are more out-of-control, chaotic, brighter, wilder. In essence, the movie embraces the punk rock ethos along with Max. Ultimately, Max comes down off the drugs and back down to earth. Hung over the next day in jail, Max begins to make sense of the night. He knows that punk is not for him, but the night has allowed him to learn to let go and to appreciate the "real" things in his life, such as his family. In the end, we find him finally basking in nature and light, enlightened and engaging in a simple game with his family.
Film Information Collapse
[NIGHT] | 2006 | 90 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (The Night of the White Pants)
About the Director(s)Collapse
Amy Talkington is a Texas-born filmmaker and writer. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Barnard College in 1993 with a degree in Art History before going on to study film at Columbia University, where she completed her M.F.A. in 1999. Talkington was nominated for a Rockefeller Foundation Film Fellowship in 2000, but before she began to make films, she wrote about music and film for magazines like Spin, Mademoiselle, College Music Journal, Interview, Seventeen, and Ray Gun. Her five short films have been shown at numerous festivals worldwide and have received a number of accolades, but she is best known for her shorts Second Skin and The New Arrival, both of which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The Night of the White Pants is Talkington's feature debut, and she is currently developing her sophomore effort, Deeply Shallow and Really Fake, which is also set in her native Dallas.