From the Archive — House Party 2

house party 2

There were some films I covered during my three year tenure as co-host and co-producer of a weekly movie news and reviews radio show in the early nineteen-nineties that I remember as actively making me angry. This was one of them. I’m fairly sure I made that clear when I delivered this review on mic. I preserved the quotation marks I included in the script, certain they were a signal to heighten the clear contempt in my voice when I uttered the words contained within them.

The film House Party 2 sends a very clear message about women. Women are objects whose sole purpose is to provide pleasure to men. The house party referred to in the title of the film is in fact a “jammie jam,” where women who are dressed “appropriately,” meaning in skimpy lingerie, are allowed in for free and all the men have to pay ten dollars for the privilege of ogling them. Women are supposed to do whatever their man wants them to, and any woman who is determined to think for herself — say, for example, a feminist played by rapper Queen Latifah — is treated as a minor villain.

Some may say this rampant sexism is a simply a characteristic of the culture that House Part 2 immerses itself in. If the film were merely documenting those sexist attitudes, as the far superior film Boyz in the Hood did, then it would be excusable. Instead, House Party 2 is celebrating those attitudes, absolutely reveling in the distasteful treatment.

Actually, House Party 2 has an abundance of reasons why it’s just not good. In the film rapper Kid goes off to college, and his cohort Play loses his tuition money to a shady woman promising a record contract and a king’s ransom. This causes Kid to struggle with jobs and grumpy deans, plus try to deal with all his classes. And it’s all tired and hackneyed. Of course there will be one college professor who’s extra hard on Kid and eventually help him see the light and realize what a good student he can be. Of course Kid and his girlfriend will drift apart only to come back together again. And on and on. By the end, you’re longing for the joyous fun of that promised house party, but the film even cheats you out of that. By all rights, the party should be fun to watch. Instead, it’s just as dull as the rest of the film.

There are several performers in this film who one imagines would be entertaining with better material. Tisha Campbell, playing Kid’s girlfriend, is a smart charmer, Georg Stanford Brown is striking and imposing as a college professor, Queen Latifah approaches her character with impressive conviction, and Kid has a natural, upbeat comic sense. All of it is wasted here. This film is a house party none of them should have attended. I know I wish I never had.

1 star, on the 4 star scale.


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