Music video director Calmatic makes his feature debut by taking on a nineties classic in House Party from Warner Bros. Pictures. Atlanta staff writers Jamal Olori and Stephen Glover (yes, he's Donald's brother) pen the screenplay and also make their debut.
Aspiring club promoters and best buds Damon (Tosin Cole) and Kevin (Jacob Latimore) are barely keeping things together. Out of money, down on their luck and freshly fired from their low-lift jobs as house cleaners, they are about to lose the roofs over their heads. The pair needs a colossal windfall to make their problems go away. Damon has the not-so-bright idea to host the party of the year at an exclusive mansion, the site of their last cleaning job, which happens to belong to none other than LeBron James.
No permission? No problem. What could go wrong? How about a time-traveling DJ, undependable security, a runaway guest list, one borrowed Lamborghini, angry rival promoters, a stolen championship ring, escalating property damage, and an angry koala?
Before I delve into the review, I'll address the elephant in the room. It's no secret that there were skeptics when NBA great LeBron James and his producing partner Maverick Carter announced their plans to modernize House Party. In hindsight, while the 2023 version of House Party has the same title, the creatives behind the scenes are expanding on the brand.
Case in point, the original film stars Kid N'Play have a cameo in the movie. Furthermore, the nineties were a particular time for everything from clothes to music for me. I'm sure my parents felt that way in the seventies. Thus I viewed House Party 2023 expecting them to cater to the young adults of 2023.
House Party sets up its premise rather quickly, introducing us to Kevin and Damon. Right off the bat, we know which of the two is more responsible and who the slacker is. Lattimore and Cole slide into their roles efficiently and have a believable friendship. I've been a fan of Lattimore's acting for over a decade, and he brings his usual charm here. Cole is also a rising talent, fresh off a dramatic turn as Medger Evers in last year's Till; he shows commendable comedic timing.
The supporting cast only has a little to work with and falls into the usual comedic tropes while paying homage to the original. Karen Obilom portrays the love interest, and DC Young Fly is the DJ. While Allen Maldonado, Melvin Gregg, and Rotimi make up the bullies. Each talent gets a moment with Melvin Gregg delivering a few scene-stealing lines. Once the party kicks off, everything goes into overdrive, from double-take cameos to timeless throwback tracks.
While I generally enjoyed House Party, I had one issue. There are some great moments in the third act involving Kid Cudi, who portrays a hyper-realistic version of himself. That sequence alone is so wild and out there. It's of the best moments in the film, and I would've loved to see that expounded upon more.
As we all know, comedy is subjective, so House Party is sure to get some wild hate from critics and fans of the original. Nevertheless, I found the film to be a fun time and its own thing, with flourishing homages to the original.
Final Grade: B
House Party is in theaters now.