A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that House Party is a 1990 comedy in which Kid and Play are teens who throw a house party. While some of the comedy has held up, using homophobia as a punchline hasn't. In a rap battle between Kid and Play, being gay is something to be mocked. One of the bullies often uses the word "f--got." In perhaps the most shockingly dated scene, Kid is in jail and spurns what appears to be a near prison rape by rapping about how he isn't gay while making jokey references to AIDS, Rock Hudson, and Liberace. Frequent profanity, including the "N" word, "f--k," and "p---y." There's some drinking at the party, and the one character who is the most enthusiastic about drinking is later shown to be stumbling and passing out while everybody else is having fun. Some sex; teens inadvertently witness a couple having sex in their bedroom and the man is very loud as he grunts and talks about his wife's "p---y." Teens almost have sex -- Kid takes out a condom while his girlfriend starts to remove her bra -- but they stop when her parents get home. Some bullying: Bullies verbally taunt Kid and then rough him up in the school cafeteria. This movie launched a series of sequels, and a remake is in the works via LeBron James' production company.
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Drugs drinking smoking: 1\5
What's the story?
In the high school cafeteria, Play (Christopher Martin) tells his best friends Kid (Christopher Reid) and Bilal (Martin Lawrence) that since his parents are out of town, he wants to throw a HOUSE PARTY. Kid then gets into an altercation with the bullies Stab, Pee-Wee, and Zilla that results in Kid getting sent to the principal's office. A pink slip will be sent to his house informing his father of his misbehavior. The pink slip arrives shortly after Kid's father (Robin Harris) reluctantly agrees to allow Kid to attend the party. Undaunted, Kid sneaks out, but is pursued by the three bullies, who attract the attention of two bumbling racist cops. But when he does get to the party, Bilal is the DJ, and he dances with the fickle Sharane, the girl he wants to be with, but then gets to know Sidney, who seems much more down-to-earth. Kid must choose between the two, and as the night goes on and he ends up in deeper trouble, he needs the help of his friends to bail him out, literally.
Is it any good?
This movie has held up in some ways, and in other ways, it hasn't held up at all. Parents viewing the '80s and '90s movies of their childhoods through 21st-century eyes can add House Party to the movies that have moments of iffy content that are downright shocking nowadays. But on the other hand, scenes satirizing the relationship between the police and the African American community remain relevant, and practically every grumbling mumble out of the mouth of Kid's father (played by the late Robin Harris) remains hilarious.
There are some moments of real nostalgia for the kitsch of the time: the fashions, the music, and Kid's "eraserhead" hairstyle. Aside from the homophobia, House Party has earned its place in the teen party/coming-of-age pantheon. Not monumentally groundbreaking, but it lives up to the title, and for the most part, still entertains.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about "teen party" comedies. How does House Party compare to other teen party movies in terms of the relationships between teens and adults, relationships, sex, drinking?
How is the relationship between the police and the African American community satirized in this movie? How does this humor seem relevant today?
How does the movie address the challenges adults and kids face in single-parent homes? How does the movie present deeper messages and themes through direct and subtle ways?
- In theaters: March 9, 1990
- On DVD or streaming: January 8, 2008
- Cast: Martin Lawrence, Christopher Reid, Christopher Martin
- Director: Reginald Hudlin
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Arts and Dance, Friendship, High School, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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