Prince Charles Cinema All Night Movie Marathon Pyjama Party

On Saturday night The Prince Charles Cinema in London held their first ever pyjama party which involved the screening of 8 sleepover suitable films being screened back to back over 14 hours. After our success with the dual Harry Potter all-nighters I couldn’t resist the challenge and so grabbed my best pyjamas and my best friend Melissa and headed down to Leicester Square.

The event kicked off at 21:30 on Saturday 2nd June 2012 as we settled into The Prince Charles’ soft seats having changed into our PJs. It is important to note that the majority of the sold out crowd had taken the pyjama part of the event very seriously and those wearing actual clothes were in the minority. After a short introduction by a man in a Tigger onesie we were into our first film of the night.

The first film of the night bucked the trend before it had been set as this was one of two films not set in a High School. Instead we had teenage characters, presumably in High School, all working at one trendy record shop fighting possible conversion into a chain franchise. The film was fluffy fun but most of the film was filler distracting from the light plot surrounding the store’s financial deficit. What mattered most for the first film was that we were at our most awake and it was loud and bright enough to stop us flagging early on. Anyone who may have been nodding off this early in the evening would have easily been kept awake by the enthusiastic quoting along from the audience.

As the credits rolled we were told that the marathon was already behind schedule after just one film. I don’t know how this happened unless someone read the run-times wrong.

The second film Clueless set the tone for the majority of the film as it featured short skirts, a stoner character, High School students in a High School, a house party, a prom and a character being taken on a tour of the school via a breakdown of the various social groups. Half an hour into Clueless I had to confess that I had never seen the film before, a surprise to me, and had just seen the TV series instead. What a fool.

Highlights from this film included the audience cheering the first appearance of the late Brittany Murphy and the introduction of “that’s the name of the movie” being shouted out any time a character said “clueless”. When attempting a marathon like this it is the energy from your fellow cinema-goers that helps keep you going.

Mean Girls stands as a testament to the fact that Tina Fey was making me laugh long before I had any idea who she was and that Lindsay Lohan was once an attractive and hilarious actress. We strongly believe that we can spot in the film the precise moment when Lohan stopped being an innocent teen star and started her spiral from grace – it was midway through the group performance of Jingle Bell Rock. Trust me. Mean Girls is a fantastic film that could be easily overlooked by someone foolish enough not to have seen it and a welcome addition to the marathon. Melissa and I seemed to be the only people excited by Amy Poehler’s small role, for shame Prince Charles Cinema audience.

After Mean Girls we were treated to the only inter-film game of the night (Dream Phone and other games having been abandoned due to us being behind schedule somehow) as an audience-wide game of pass the parcel started. We may not have won any of the DVD box sets on offer but we did get the pleasure of hearing the theme tune to Clarissa Explains it All being played through the cinema speakers as we passed the well wrapped parcel along the rows.

Along with Clueless this is a rare breed of teen comedy – one which is based on a Shakespeare play. Another gem in this sub-genre is Get Over It which I recommend for anyone who I am not trying to impress. 10 Things is pretty much the gold standard in the pyjama party film catalogue; it is funny, romantic, and has an amazing cast including the late Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Julia Stiles, and Allison Janney.

By this point some form of sleep deprivation induced mania set in as we became hysterical at the sound of the name Bogey Lowenstein and fell about when the character’s party was crashed shortly after he uttered the immortal line, “That must be Nigel with the brie.” The scene can be seen here, but as you won’t be watching it in the early hours of the morning after three other films I doubt it will seem as funny.

After the glory of 10 Things the next film fell a little flat. There wasn’t really any story to follow, just a bunch of teenagers being teenagers, and I think this is the reason that I lapsed into a few brief naps for the first time of the night. Somehow the teenager inside me managed to keep me awake for all the sexy scenes/scenes in which Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character had terrible sexual experiences.

Reality Bites was the only film of the night I had never even heard of before and on any other occasion I may well have enjoyed it but tonight was not the night. Suffering badly from lack of sleep and feeling let down by Fast Times we became quite angry at a film that we felt had no place in what was otherwise a collection of teen comedies. The characters in Reality Bites were in their twenties (can you imagine!?) and seemed to be having no fun at all. Misery and angst is not well received on this little sleep.

Luckily we had two classics on their way to finish off the event but these were missed by some people as a fraction of the audience had been killed off by the previous two films and the fact that the Underground had started running again.

Molly Ringwald stars as a teen trying to date outside her social grade in a bit of classic John Hughes cinema. This was my first encounter with Pretty in Pink and it did not disappoint. Even Jon Cryer managed to prove that he was once funny in the role of Duckie the eternally overlooked best friend almost stealing the film as he sings Try a Little Tenderness with great enthusiasm. I didn’t agree with the film’s ending at the time but after reading Molly Ringwald’s assessment I guess she chose the right guy in the end.

Watching with such a vocal crowd we were pleased that everyone shared our view of the dress Ringwald fashions for herself at the end. I’m sure she could have been pretty in pink in any number of outfits but in that pink sack Ringwald looked a right state. Why the two guys were fighting over her in that outfit I have no idea.

As the final film began it must have been almost 10am on the Sunday morning and I was ready for bed. This was another classic I had never seen though and Melissa informed me that it was one of her favourite films so I was keen to stay awake and I think I did for the most part.

Surprisingly engaging for a film taking place in almost just one room, The Breakfast Club stood up to its glowing reputation and was funny and touching in all the right ways. The audience was happy to brand each character as either a slut or prude with a loud heckle – it made sense in context and kept me awake – and the film ended with all of us who had made it through the night punching the air in unison and singing along to Don’t You (Forget About Me). It was a beautiful moment made all the more moving thanks to the fact that we hadn’t slept for a full day and had watched 14 hours of films back to back.

The whole night was an amazing experience and we are already planning to return for The Prince Charles Cinema’s next two Pyjama Parties. We didn’t even experience the whole event as the upstairs screen was showing some classic kids TV (Sabrina, Clarissa and others) but we were too committed to our 8 film challenge to venture to the second screen. I cannot recommend this type of cinema event enough even if it has taken me a full week to recover and write it up.

Sadly no charts this time, but here’s the night in numbers: Four house parties gone awry, four proms, three references to the menstrual cycle, three tours of the social groups in a high school, two Shakespeare adaptations, two incidents of vomiting on dates, countless token stoner characters and not as many token black characters as you might think.