‘House Party’ review: Another reboot no one asked for
Fun fact about Reginald Hudlin Classic 1990 comedy “House Party” featuring the comedy duo Kid ‘n Play: It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry housed at the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant,” no doubt referring to the crossfade and to the iconic kick-step dance he popularized. It’s no wonder that New Line and Warner Bros. launched the reboot machine for that title three decades later to give the concept a fresh 2020s twist, especially with the basketball superstar. james lebron on board to develop, produce and appear in the project.
The good news is that after some delays, the remake of “House Party,” directed by acclaimed music video director and commercial Calmatic in his feature debut, is in theaters. The bad news is that this one is definitely not headed to the Library of Congress. This comedic, narratively muddled take on the title (not even the original premise) is deeply unfunny and downright annoying.
In 1990, Kid ‘n Play depicted two high schoolers sneaking out for a house party and finding adventure along the way. In the remake, Jacob Latimore and Tosin Cole play Kevin and Damon (pronounced “Duh-mon”), 20-year-old best friends, useless party planners by night, housekeepers by day, who find themselves working at LeBron James’ mansion and decide to throw a party there while he was away.
As a wise man (Danny Glover in “Lethal Weapon”) said, “I’m too old for this [expletive]’, and indeed that may be the case with ‘House Party’, in which watching these two unkind morons make a series of increasingly silly decisions regarding James’ home, art collection and championship trophies. becomes a truly insufferable endurance test for anyone watching who has ever rented an Airbnb.
Reckless property damage could be worth it if there were stakes or a sense of narrative momentum in Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori’s screenplay. Kevin keeps pretending he has to throw the party to make money for his daughter’s school (care seems to be a factor), because his moldy house beats aren’t making him any money, and her parents (Bill Bellamy and Nia Long in an unfortunately brief appearance) are selling their house. Damon’s motivation seems to be that he just wants to floss at a borrowed mansion for the gram.
The film drifts from one scene or scenario to another without advancing it too much; When Kevin gets frustrated with Damon claiming the party is out of control, it only seems to be because it’s the appropriate time in the story for it to happen, not that the party itself is actually out of control. The sagging, sweeping narrative is tied to celebrity cameos and year 2000 nostalgia – the best moment comes from a surprise performance by Juvenile, and singer Mýa has a supporting role.
The comedy oscillates between absurdly heightened and down-to-earth grounding, often switching between the two modes haphazardly, never landing on a tone. The only semi-interesting part of the film features rapper-actor Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi, as himself, and an “Illuminati” style “Eyes Wide Shut” party. It’s a momentary diversion, but Mescudi is a captivating on-screen presence, and it’s the house party we’d really like to see – not this messy, frustrating remake that fails to justify its own existence.
Katie Walsh is a film critic at the Tribune News Service.
‘Party at home’
Rating: R, for pervasive language, drug use, sexual material and certain acts of violence
When: Open Friday
Where: wide version
Operating time: 1 hour, 40 minutes