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Review: House Party
Party Like Your Life Depends On It
Aspiring club promoters and best buds Damon and Kevin are barely keeping things together. Out of money, down on their luck and about to lose the roofs over their heads, and freshly fired from their low-lift jobs as house cleaners, the pair needs a huge windfall to make their problems go away. In a “what the hell?” move, they decide to host the party of the year at an exclusive mansion, the site of their last cleaning job, which just happens to belong to none other than LeBron James. No permission? No problem. What could go wrong?
I’d be lying to you if I said I knew much, if any, about the cult classic 1990 film House Party featuring Kid N’ Play. While I’m well aware of it I’ve never watched the movie or any of its sequels save for maybe flipping past them On TV while channel surfing in my youth.
Thankfully I don’t have to worry about missing any context because this film is a straight up reboot, in fact one in which they can break fourth wall as Kid N’ Play plays (No pun intended) themselves in a cameo. And given the strong streak of legacy sequels and reboots its not too surprising to see a cult classic take a crack at it.
This was actually originally supposed to be an HBO Max straight to streaming exclusive but for whatever reason a move was made to make it a theatrical release instead. Now having seen it I can say that was probably the wrong choice.
I can’t say I outright disliked this. I actually got some chuckles and laughed out loud in a scene or two. There are moments with clever jokes. But there’s also just as many jokes that don’t land and even some clever jokes mess themselves up by going on TOO long. And thus the comedy is uneven and leads to not having any real moments to hang on to as particularly memorable.
The movie intentionally sets up a scenario with its plot in which celebrity cameos are a given but save for two of them they don’t matter at all to the story and feel so blatantly forced in. The screenplay also does a great disservice to the movie by having potential moments with heart interrupted with unfunny bits or nonsensical subplots - and it even completely detours into a whole different movie for the back-half of the second act in a way that makes a comedic film about a party gone wrong actually get less grounded in any reality. And worse of all the script writes these characters very thinly and superficial.
I didn’t like this movie, but I didn’t hate it either. Like I said it did get a few laughs from me and I never felt bored even if I shook my head with some screenplay decisions. This is the kind of movie that had I watched it on HBO Max as it was originally intended I would not be all that annoyed with it given it was something to put on and kill time with, but alas the studio asking people to actually trek out to the movie theatres and skip some solid films currently playing for this is kind of insulting. This 2023 House Party reboot is something that even the most curious to give it a chance should just wait forty-five days to see on HBO Max for no extra prize.
Perhaps M3GAN just raised the bar too high to kick off the year with such a banger because this makes me feel like January and its mid movies are back.