House Party (film)

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House Party
House Party 1990 Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Produced by Gerald T. Olson
Warrington Hudlin
Written by Reginald Hudlin
Music by Lenny White
Marcus Miller
Cinematography Peter Deming
Edited by Earl Watson
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • March 9, 1990 (1990-03-09)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2.5 million[1]
Box office $26,385,627[2]

House Party is a 1990 American comedy film released by New Line Cinema. It stars Kid and Play of the popular hip hop duo Kid 'n Play, and also stars Paul Anthony, Bow-Legged Lou, and B-Fine from Full Force, and Robin Harris (who died of a heart attack nine days after House Party was released). The film also starred Martin Lawrence, Tisha Campbell, A.J. Johnson, Daryl "Chill" Mitchell and Gene "Groove" Allen (of Groove B. Chill), Kelly Jo Minter, John Witherspoon, with a cameo by funk musician George Clinton. This was Robin Harris' last on-screen performance before his untimely death, after filming was completed in 1989.

The film was written and directed by Reginald Hudlin, based on his award-winning Harvard University student film.[3] The film grossed $26,385,627 in its run at the box office with its widest release being 700 theaters. The film has since become a cult classic.[citation needed] Upon its initial release, the film garnered critical acclaim.

The lead roles were originally written for DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.[citation needed]


In their high-school cafeteria, Peter, also known as "Play" (Christopher "Play" Martin) announces to his friends Christopher aka "Kid" (Reid) and Bilal (Martin Lawrence) that he will be having a party at his house that night, as his parents are on vacation. The reluctant Bilal is to be the DJ. Kid is then involved in an altercation with school bully Stab (Paul Anthony) and his two brothers Pee-Wee and Zilla (Bowlegged Lou and B-Fine). When Kid comes home, he tries to convince his father, "Pop" (Robin Harris) to let him go to the party. Pop relents at first, but when a note from school informs him of the fight, he grounds him. Rather than miss the party of the year, Kid sneaks out while Pop is sleeping in front of Dolemite - but the door closing behind Kid awakens Pop. On his way to the party Kid runs into Stab and his brothers, jumps over a fence, and is shot at by the homeowner. The punks are also shot at and Kid ducks into a nearby Alpha Delta Sigma reunion to escape them. Crashing the reunion, Kid has the DJ (George Clinton) scratch and mix a few of his old doo wop records so that he can liven the party with a rap, until Stab and the others arrive. Trying to escape from Stab, Kid accidentally knocks down an older man. Kid and the bullies are caught by the neighborhood police, who humiliate the four teenagers before letting them go.

The party is in full swing when Kid finally arrives. Kid and Play soon get into a dance contest with attractive girls Sydney (Campbell) and Sharane (Johnson), then have a quick freestyle battle. Stab and his friends attempt to break up the party, but are arrested a second time by the policemen, who take delight in the prospect of beating them up. Kid's father eventually makes his way to the party, demanding to know where Kid is (upstairs helping Sharane get her coat) and, not finding him, Pop vows to wait for him at home. Play stops the party because his bathroom toilet was broken by party members. Although Kid and Sydney have eyes for each other, Sharane decides to flirt with Kid openly, much to Sydney's disgust. The three soon leave the party, but when Kid tries to make advances on Sharane, she rebuffs him. Kid then walks Sydney back home, and after some argument the pair finally calm down and talk quietly.

Sydney allows Kid to sneak into her house, and the two are about to have sex in Sydney's room when she stops him, wanting to know if she is simply his second choice. Kid admits that Sydney was his first choice all along, but they do not do anything when they see that the only condom Kid has is too old to be used. When Sydney's parents come home - now revealed as one of the couples at the high-school reunion, including the man Kid ran into - Sydney hastily helps Kid sneak out of the house. He manages to get out of yet another scrape with Stab and his brothers, and they all end up in a jail cell. The men tell Kid what they're in jail for and Kid entertains the rest of the men in the cell by rapping, distracting them long enough for Play, Sharane, Bilal, and Sydney to arrive with enough cash to bail him out. Later, the five friends say their goodnights. Kid and Sydney share a long passionate kiss goodnight. After Play and Bilal drops him off, Kid sneaks in the house and gets undressed. As he is about to get into bed, he looks up to find Pop holding a belt, as the credits roll, we can hear Pop whacking Kid (Kid yelping with each hit) during the credits.

At the very beginning of the movie, kids are seen dancing inside of a house with the noise being so loud that it literally blows the roof off of the house. During the credit roll, the same roof flies and lands on top of the policemen in a parking lot.



A soundtrack containing hip hop and R&B music was released on March 9, 1990 by Motown Records. It peaked at 104 on the Billboard 200 and 20 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.


The film was a popular success, and two sequels were made: House Party 2 in 1991; and House Party 3 in 1994. House Party 2 features Lawrence and Campbell reprising their roles from the first film; the two would begin starring in the TV sitcom Martin the following year. House Party 3 features hip hop/R&B groups TLC and Immature in supporting roles. In 2001, Immature (now going by IMx) starred in a direct-to-video sequel, House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute, which does not feature any of the original cast from the other three films. A fifth installment and direct follow-up to the third film, titled House Party: Tonight's the Night was filmed in 2012 with Tequan Richmond, Zac Goodman, Tristin Mays, Alex McGregor, Rolonda Watts and Gary Anthony Williams. The film was a direct to DVD release in 2013, and also marked the return of Kid 'n Play to the series.


House Party was met with critical acclaim.[4][5] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 96% "fresh" rating, based on 24 reviews, with an average rating of 6.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "House Party is a light, entertaining teen comedy with an infectious energy".[6] Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it three out of four stars and commended its "energy and exuberance".[7] He called the film "wall-to-wall with exuberant song and dance" and stated, "the musical is a canvas used by the director, Reginald Hudlin, to show us black teenagers with a freshness and originality that's rare in modern movies".[7]

American Film Institute recognition:


  1. ^ Hudlin, Reginald (2000-09-10). "If It's a Question of Money . . .". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  2. ^ House Party at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1986-01-27). "Winning Black Videos, Films Highlight Youth". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved 2011-10-29. Reginald Hudlin's "House Party!," a stylish and witty look at teen-age behavior, won the $1,500 first prize in the fourth annual Black Independent Video and Film-maker's Awards sponsored by the Black American Cinema Society, the film archives of the Western States Black Research Center. 
  4. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1990-03-09). "Rite of Teen-Age Passage in 'House Party'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  5. ^ Caro, Mark (1990-03-09). "House Party` Full Of The Energy Of Young Black Culture". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-12. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (March 9, 1990). "House Party". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  8. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees

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