Tag Archives: Kid

Does the World Really Need a House Party 3?

28 Jan

The world did not need another House Party movie. In fact, the world didn’t need a House Party 2, and outside of a few classic cameos by Bernie Mac and Freez-Luv, the world didn’t need a House Party 3. I watched the trailer to this new House Party reboot, and the timing of this film’s release seems poor. With all the existential threats we Black Americans face in our current day to day, it’s hard to accept the ridiculous premise that two house cleaners could find a way to throw a party in the social media era at Lebron James’ house and neither he, nor his people find out. 

Just for kicks, I threw on the original House Party on the screen to see if it still held up, or if nostalgia had me feeling stronger about the movie than it deserved. There were some gags that still had me cracking up, and some gags that I didn’t think were as funny now that I’m in my mid-forties. Overall, it was still enjoyable, however; even in its original form, it would be considered a superfluous film. The fact is this movie was just a snapshot of an era that was already on its way out the door. Here is a list of what worked and what didn’t work.

What Worked

The cast was superb.

There are some great casting decisions that at the time couldn’t have been pulled off by any other actors (I’m not talking about Kid or Play we’ll get to them later). Robin Harris as Kid’s father carries a lot of the film. His quips and sharp humor at the time were ferocious (Chicago comic!!!) and memorable, calling teenagers test tube babies, and roasting the hell out everyone he came across. Sadly, he would die shortly after the film was released– at the age of 36 (he looked much older, and in hindsight, it’s kind of distressing seeing him in this condition).

John Witherspoon has some classic cameos, which at the time were hilarious, but when looking back at all his roles as Pop in Friday, Pops from Wayans Bros, and Grandad from Boondocks (don’t forget his role in Boomerang). The Public Enema scene was hilarious to me for two reasons: 1) Martin’s character really was playing Public Enemy at a house party, and 2) Somehow Witherspoon’s character knew it was Public Enemy. 

Full Force’s scenes were all side splitting, unfortunately some of the language in their dialogues could not be replicated today (for better or worse). The dynamic of the three was pure slapstick, but every interaction they had with other people and within their group were hilarious. 

Clifton Powell (who is most famously known for his role as Pinky in Friday and Chauncy in Menace II Society) makes an appearance in what to me is the funniest written scene, as we take our first trip in the movie to the projects. Chauncy opens the door to Tisha Campbell’s character, Sydney, and he is talking to his homeboy on the phone, about going to a party (“12 o’clock! He says. Black people don’t go to no party at 8 o’clock,” he tells him). I’d never listened to the conversation before, but he is telling his homeboy to “leave his ugly girlfriend at home because there were plenty of girls going to be there already.” The whole project scene is for my money, the best written part of the film. You get a chance to see how Sharane and Sydney interact despite being from vastly different backgrounds (Sydney’s parents may be Boule, and Sharane’s parents don’t seem to be in the picture). Every joke in the scene lands, from the family gathered round the television watching Flash from the Five Heartbeats do a commercial to the final punchline of Peanut (young Trey in Boyz in the Hood) putting too much sugar in the Kool Aid. 

Other Cameos of note:

AJ Johnson in the “follow the drip” scene.

Daryl “Chill” Mitchell bumping the DJ table.

Stanley from Friday in the scene where Play kicks everyone out the house.

Shaun Baker as Clinton X -episode where Tommy brings the white girl on the ski trip (Snow White).

The use of music in the film was good too. I never noticed until this most recent viewing that the music supervisors were Marcus Miller and Lenny White, two jazz legends–even at that time. Luther Vandross’ Having a Party is the perfect intro to the film, setting the tone for what was to follow (even giving us a little foreshadowing in the lyrics).

What Did Not Work

The most notable folklore about this film is that neither Kid nor Play were the first casting choices for this film. The movie was originally written with Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff in mind. There was a dispute with New Line Cinema over the song, A Nightmare on My Street, and the way it played out, made this scenario a non-reality. While Kid N Play did okay jobs as their first major acting role, their scenes seem a little forced and at times, overacted. That being said, it’s impossible to imagine this movie with the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff in those two roles.

Kid’s (Christopher Reid) scenes were especially hard to watch. He is such a cornball, and every scene with him seemed a little extra. His punchlines typically landed flat, and I could not be convinced that two best friends would be fighting for his affections.

Play behaved like someone who’d never had his ass beaten before. The dude was wildly disrespectful to his friend Bilal (strangely similar to the character he played in Boomerang). Play’s sense of entitlement and dismissive attitude towards everyone around him made it hard to sympathize with his mama’s toilet getting clogged. Of all the roles, his character seemed to lack any real backstory (other than what Robin Harris’ character gives us). His character does redeem himself in the end, helping his friend Kid in his time of need, so I guess there is that, but the film could’ve given us at least a phone call with his parents to show him in a light that wasn’t so flat. Although I must admit, I did like the “Project girl” conversation he had with Kid explaining the logistics of how they should divvy up the booty (Although, later when he lies about kissing Sharane in front of Sydney, how does it not get back to Sharane by the next morning at school?).

There were two scenes that I thought were unnecessary to the development of the film: Kid being chased by Full Force and him trying to freestyle a Boule party, deejayed by George Clinton, and the jailhouse scene. I understand why they may have thought it was a good idea. But the execution of both turned out to be lame gags and just made the run time of the film longer than it should have been. Both scenes should have ended on the cutting floor.

Other Random Thoughts

Kid N Play were way better dancers than they were rappers. Every time either one of them picked up a microphone I tuned out or checked my phone for text messages. It was 1990 so I get it, but whenever people say the Golden Age of Hip Hop started in 1988, Kid N Play is probably Exhibit C of wack emcee’s from that time period.

At the 40:45 period, Sharane says to Sydney, “You Go Girl.” with Bilal sitting in the front seat of Play’s hooptie. And thus, the premise for Martin is born. Speaking of Martin Lawrence, he nails every single scene he is in, from slow dancing at the party comparing chick to a buttermilk biscuit, while she boredly blows her bubble gum, to getting dissed by the ladies because of his hygiene, and my favorite scene of all, with him in his bedroom kissing his Jet Beauty of the Week cut outs that are pinned to his wall (my older cousin had a similar shrine around that same time).

The nod to Animal House where they drop off Groove at his mama’s house is a great gag.

This movie hit differently as a Black father. All the bad things happened to Kid happened because he disobeyed his father and left the house. He endured a couple of near beatdowns, almost got hit by multiple cars, got gaffled up by the police, and lastly, almost got his manhood snatched in the jailhouse. Had this not been a comedy, there are so many ways this story could’ve ended tragically.

Closing Thoughts

The endearing quality of that first House Party is that it’s a snapshot of that late 80’s era. It hints at what is to come for Black American culture, with Martin Lawrence ascending and John Witherspoon’s career arc peaking with the Friday franchise and every gig that came afterwards. Tisha Campbell as Gina, A.J. Johnson ten years later for her role in Baby Boy. Robin Harris sadly would not see the next decade, and Kid N Play was “played out by the time House Party 3 came about in 1994. 

The 90’s would become more rougher, more dangerous, Middle class black neighborhoods would dissolve into hoods and gentrified parts of town. The premise was simple and relatively innocent: Someone’s parents are out of town, and they have a party. The complications are the bullies, Kid not listening to his father, and eventually, Play’s toilet getting ruined. It would be rare to see such innocent fun in Black cinema going forward. Black movies for the next 20 years would get heavy on the drama and violence, and the few comedies to come out, would be slapstick and nonsensical.

Which brings me to this is “new” House Party. From what I saw in the trailer, this could’ve been named anything else. The plot’s premise is a non-starter for me. I’m okay with suspending my disbelief for the sake of story, but in the age of social media, it’s hard to believe that someone can have a party thrown at their house and have people they know attend it without them finding out is a bridge too farfetched (even for me). I personally think that House Party holds up to those people born in and of that era of 80’s nostalgia. I would love to know how a Gen Z person would receive the movie had it been released today.

Bob E. Freeman