The Austin Chronicle

House Party 2

Directed by Doug McHenry, George Jackson. Starring Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin, Tisha Campbell, Iman, Queen Latifah.

REVIEWED By Kathleen Maher, Fri., Nov. 1, 1991

Music producers McHenry and Jackson take over from the Hudlin brothers who created the original House Party. Not a bad idea, these two previously worked on Krush Groove, a film that helped bring hip-hop music and culture to the mainstream of American popular culture. They also produced the soundtrack for New Jack City. Given their background it's not surprising that soundtrack and film are integral parts of one whole or, to put it more cynically, House Party 2 is at least partially designed to sell records. What is surprising, is that House Party 2 falls short of its progenitor in the one area it could be expected to excel, in its musical numbers. Both movies are blessed with the charming presence of the two Christophers, Reid and Martin, aka Kid 'N Play. Kid is the good one, who's just now starting college. Play is his bad angel who wants to forget about college and try for a musical career. He meets a real bad angel in Iman, the amazingly beautiful model, who plays a seductive con artist here. Play is no match for temptation and he gives Kid's college tuition to Iman for a demo record. The rest of the movie is spent trying to recover Kid's money before he's thrown out of college. Queen Latifah puts in a good day's work as Zora, the no-nonsense African-American feminist. It is her insistence that the female characters “respect themselves” that is intended to offset their usual state of undress. It doesn't exactly work, but this is not the kind of movie that one expects to be a sophisticated feminist treatise. What is expected of a movie like House Party 2, however, is that the music be good. It is; the music is just fine, but it's not played loud enough. The camera never seems to be in the right place when people are dancing. In fact, we never see any of of the really dynamite dancing that was practically thrown away in House Party though it's clear that Campbell, Reid and Martin are still more than capable. With very little of the realism that underscored the original House Party's light heart, this sequel is little more than a charming, very elaborate cinematic commercial for the album.

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