House Party: Review
When two down-and-out household cleaners, Damon and Kevin, discover they are in the mansion of NBA superstar LeBron James, they decide to throw an epic rager with an all-star guest list in House Party.
As a remake of the 1990 cult classic, House Party steps in the shoes of a generational comedy defined by the vibrant zeitgeist of early 1990s hip-hop culture. I know critics are usually first to lament the existence of yet another remake, but House Party always seemed well-suited for a modern reinterpretation. The classic lineage of old-school party films represents hollowed comedic grounds throughout different filmmaking eras. Given Hollywood's current shortage of comedic releases, House Party represents a refreshing oddity in its pursuit of imprinting its humorous stamp on a time-honored trend.
The 2023 House Party features a who's who of comedic stars and marquee celebrities in a raucous, wild night in the house of "King James" himself. While this remake may never escape the lasting shadow of its stalwart predecessor, it endearingly succeeds at cultivating a funny farce for a new generation.
It helps that House Party dawns complete self-awareness in its throwback pursuits. Music video director Calmatic teams with Atlanta screenwriters Jamal Olori and Stephen Glover to create an easy-going hangout comedy bolstered by endless gags and an affectionate embrace of lionized comedic tenants. The film never dilutes itself into having grander pretenses, focusing almost exclusively on conjuring an infectious partygoing experience.
Some are already labeling this new House Party a party folly for not mirroring its beloved predecessor. Personally, I am glad the creative team embeds their approach through a modern lens. Olori and Glover collaborate on a sharp screenplay that effectively dispenses clever pop culture references and zany slapstick situations. Even when bits miss the mark, there is always another bitting joke or comedic pratfall waiting around the corner to inject some much-needed amusement. I also praise the screenwriting team for making good use of celebrity cameos, including a supporting appearance from Kid Cudi in a playful twist on his rockstar image.
The new comedic ensemble for House Party also leaves a positive impression. It's impossible to match the dynamism of the original stars, Kid'n Play members Christopher Reid and Robin Harris, but new leads Tosin Cole and Jacob Latimore provide a satisfying remix. As Damon and Kevin, the duo form a lived-in comedic team as bickering friends trying to throw a memorable party. In addition, Wild'n Out fixture D.C. Young Fly is a hilarious, laugh-a-minute scene-stealer as a DJ with unorthodox music taste.
Make no mistake, even for its successes; House Party is a fry cry away from the heights of its predecessor. This remake is limited most by its inherent influence from the studio factory pipeline. While the 1990 film boasted exuberance and undeniable presence from its finite perspective, the 2023 remake arrives as a sanitized studio comedy package formed from the boilerplate remake formula. The film does not achieve anything particularly noteworthy because it's ultimately satisfied living in the shadow of what the original achieved. Director Calmatic's efforts are limited most by this approach. The Old Town Road director is constricted to guiding a sitcom-esque vision that's lacking in visceral verve.
Like most good parties, House Party leaves behind somewhat hazy memories, but most viewers should at least recall having a good time at the cineplex with this spirited remake.
House Party is now playing in theaters.