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‘House Party’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 09, 1990

 


Director:
Reginald Hudlin
Cast:
Kid n' Play;
Full Force;
Robin Harris
R
Under 17 restricted


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The best party in town is ready whenever you're ready to buy a ticket to "House Party," a hip-hopping high-school movie by the Hudlin brothers team -- producer Warrington and writer/director Reginald -- that pumps up the volume and wiggles its comic butt across the screen with a liveliness you don't see too often.

But don't worry, concerned citizens, ain't no pizza restaurant gonna burn down.

Here's what will happen, on a good night, at least: The audience will come alive. Take the applause one recent weeknight that greeted lead character Kid (Christopher Reid of musical duo Kid N' Play) when, in the movie, he pulls off his sleeping cap to reveal a tall, "Eraserhead" 'fro which, in his Pop's words, makes him look like "a young tree stump walking 'round"; or take the indignant "Wait??!!" -- this from a vicariously passionate viewer in one of the front rows -- when Sidney (Tisha Campbell) tells hot N' bothered Kid to cool the ardor. Then, when Kid gives Sidney a sensitive rap about staying friends no matter what, there was this wise woman's retort from one of the middle rows: "It works for the moment."

But the audience isn't filling in for half-baked fare. "House," with the beat-pounding help of scorer Marcus Miller and the cartoonish colors of "Hollywood Shuffle" cinematographer Peter Deming, is fast-moving, never dull, extremely funny, and manages to touch, with lighthearted (and R-rated) profundity on almost every youthful issue you can imagine, including police harassment, teenage sex, the all-too-easy road to jail and alcohol drinking.

All the performers are right on target, particularly Reid as the sweet, raw Kid, trying to stay out of trouble and have a good time, and Robin Harris (Sweet Dick Willie in "Do the Right Thing"), who is pure pleasure as Kid's father. When his son, confined to his bedroom for brawling in school, begs to go to the party where everyone's going to be, Harris retorts, "I don't give a damn if Marvin Gaye gonna be there."

There's a house party of funny others worth mentioning, including Christopher Martin (the other half of rap duo Kid N' Play), D.C.-raised Martin Lawrence, brothers Paul Anthony, B. Fine and Bowlegged Lou of the hip-hop/rap group Full Force, as well as John Witherspoon as the cranky neighbor who calls the cops about this party, saying, "Officer, I paid $15,000 for this house, I don't wanna hear no Public Enema . . ."

   
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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