‘House Party’ (2023) Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, House Party (2023) is a comedy film directed by Calmatic (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Jamal Olori (Swarm) and Stephen Glover (Guava Island). Featuring Tosin Cole, Jacob Latimore, Karen Obilom, Allen Maldonado, Rotimi, Melvin Gregg, Andrew Santino, Shakira Ja’nai Paye, D.C. Young Fly, Kid Cudi, and LeBron James; it’s a reboot of the 1990 film and sixth film in the House Party franchise. The story follows two young aspiring promoters working as house cleaners who throw a party at LeBron James’ mansion while he is away.

In Compton, Kevin (Jacob Latimore) makes beats in his room while watching his daughter Destiny. After joining his parents for breakfast, Kevin is reminded that he needs to find a place to live as they are selling the house in three months and retiring in Daytona, Florida. Across town, Damon (Tosin Cole) is berated by his Aunt Jean (Renata Walsh) for sleeping in. She blames it on his late-night clubbing, which Damon retorts is his job as a promoter. Aunt Jean scolds him and states that he still owes her rent and since he’s not making any money it’s just clubbing.

On his way to work, Kevin is approached by local promoters Kyle (Allen Maldonado), Guile (Rotimi), and Larry (Melvin Gregg) who threateningly advise him that he and Damon are being dropped from the next party due to Damon sleeping with and stealing a necklace from Guile’s cousin. At work, Kevin confronts Damon about being kicked off the party. After being advised by their friend Venus (Karen Obilom) that they will be fired due to being caught on camera goofing off on a previous job, Kevin and Damon come up with a plan to make enough money to cover all their problems. After finding out the house they are cleaning belongs to LeBron James, the duo decides to throw a massive party there and clean it up before he returns home.

Growing up I was a big fan of the House Party (1990). The original and its sequel are easily my favorites of the franchise. And I’m not alone because there are only two dances kids who grew up in the 90s know by heart; Will and Carlton dancing to The Sugar Hill Gang’s version of “Apache” and Kid and Play’s dance-off to “Ain’t My Type of Hype” by Full Force. Despite the numerous sequels and requels (reboot/sequel), none could quite capture the magic of the original and in the age of studios scouring through all of their IP to see what nostalgic product they can create for audiences to enjoy, a reboot for House Party was long overdue.

It’s almost crazy to think that this film was originally made to go straight to HBO Max (Now Max), but after the merger with Discovery, it was upgraded to a theatrical release to try and make the studio some cash. The issue is that they dumped the movie in the middle of January. That’s usually where studios drop horror flicks or movies they think will do poorly. I’m not saying House Party (2023) is the greatest thing ever, but it’s good enough to have been released later in the year. This movie is a prime example of counter-programming. Releasing the film during the summer alongside blockbusters like The Flash and Barbie could have easily doubled the box office return. People love comedies and will even turn up for mediocre comedies if they have free time.

So how does the movie compare to the original? It’s nowhere near as good as the original, but it doesn’t try to be. The spirit of a house party is still present, but this movie is a lot more fantastical. It’s not a remake and only pays homage to the classic film occasionally. As mentioned before the house is LeBron’s mansion and none of the characters are in high school. There are tons of celebrity cameos including Kid ‘n Play and two former Power Rangers. The scene with Walter Emanuel Jones had me laughing out loud. The best celebrity to appear in the film is Kid Cudi. His role in the movie elevates the comedy to another level and keeps the plot from being just a boring rehash. LeBron also has a minor role in the film, aside from also being an executive producer. Of course, he appears to play a one-on-one basketball game with Damon that plays out exactly how you would think. While this is an exaggerated version of the NBA player, it might be the closest to his real personality that we’ve seen in any movie. Also, he is comfortable making fun of himself and that makes it all the better.

With better marketing and a better release date, this new iteration of House Party could have been remembered as more than just another unnecessary remake. I give House Party (2023) a Solid 6.1/10. I would be interested in seeing a sequel or a spinoff following Kid Cudi’s dealings with the Illuminati.

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