House Party (1990)

house-party1Kid n Play originally began their careers as rap rivals, and you can sense a lot of that rivalry in their performances as Kid and Play in “House Party.” Much of that interplay of two rappers pitted against each other is carried over, even though the film establishes them as best friends. Very often “House Party” involves Kid and Play making a move on the same girl, and competing for attention not only for their friends, but from pretty much everyone they come across. Because of that “House Party” is a bonafide party film that is quite the entertaining guilty pleasure, if you’re willing to re-visit the early nineties. Born from the remnants of the eighties, “House Party” is a film that’s awfully dated but still very fun and equally funny to sit through.

As a child I remember sitting through it numerous times and finding it too amusing to skip over on television. “House Party” is your formula coming of age film in the tradition of films like “American Graffiti” and “Dazed and Confused.” It’s set in one night, involves characters coming of age, has a really good soundtrack and is filled with memorable moments that will have you laughing non-stop. From the subtle gems like supporting character Sharane’s little brother dousing kool aid with sugar, to the rap battle between Kid and Play, there’s a lot to like here. Thankfully almost fifteen years later, the film hasn’t lost its charm. The dated music and fashion works in its favor, because you have to take it in context. And if you grew up poor as I did, the jokes work even more in your favor.

Kid n Play aren’t the comedy duo to storm the movies that audiences originally thought they’d be, but they pretty much dominate the “House Party” vehicles which are custom made for them as a means of injecting them in to more mainstream crowds. The premise for the film is simple. Kid gets in to a fight at school with the local bully and is grounded by his domineering father. In spite of the strict punishment he sneaks out to his friend Play’s local house party and now his dad is hot on his heels trying to track him down. Along the way hijinks ensue including crashing an upper crest gathering with George Clinton as the DJ, interrupting a love making session, and much more that are pretty much about as raucous as ever.

Mostly though the show is in the house party where Kid and Play are able to display their charm and charisma taking part in a dance contest with equally charming Tisha Campbell and AJ Johnson, and engaging in a rap battle that is still as sharp and clever as it was in the early nineties. And who can forget the hilarious supporting performance from Martin Lawrence? Thankfully “House Party” sticks to the formula well and doesn’t lose sight of its overall premise, even after the house party ends by the time the climax rolls around, and I’m gladly a fan of the film, not just because it has sentimental value, but because it has value as a comedy and an inadvertent musical. Even though the fashion and slang has dated like store bought bananas, “House Party” is still an energetic and hilarious party film with charming stars, a killer soundtrack, and some great moments that adhere to the formula and pull off a rewarding experience.