A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The After Party is an aspiring rap artist's fantasy about the road to fame. Two high school best friends, a rapper and his "manager," traipse through intersecting worlds in the quest to get a record deal. Teens may be interested as several popular rap artists appear (Kyle, Wiz Khalifa, among others). Much of the material is adult even though the young men are presumably only 18. Expect rap concerts, drugs, strip clubs, bare breasts and bottoms, exclusive parties with drinking, quick views of porn tapes, and references to sexual acts, including blow jobs, sexually transmitted diseases, and masturbation. Explicit language is used extensively, including "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, and "p---y," and smoking marijuana is both touted as cool and exemplified as something to avoid. Some violence occurs: a fight resulting in a bloody nose, the use of pepper spray, and a car hitting motorcycles. A character is bullied for having a seizure as the result of taking drugs.
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What's the story?
In THE AFTER PARTY, an aspiring rapper named Owen (Kyle Harvey, also a rapper known as Kyle) and his best friend and manager, Jeff (Harrison Holzer), seem certain that if Owen can just rap in front of producer Rahmel, he'll get a record contract. Jeff arranges Owen's chance at an open mic night, and just as Owen is about to go on, they meet Wiz Khalifa, playing himself. He offers Owen a joint, which Owen turns down, but Jeff, wanting Owen to seem cooler, urges his friend to take a few tokes. By the time Owen takes the stage, he's stoned on some powerful weed and proceeds to projectile vomit on Wiz and fall into a seizure. Rather than react normally to such a medical emergency, people record and post videos of the event, naming Owen "Seezjaboy." The videos go viral and Owen becomes an internet joke. Embarrassed, he decides to pack up and join the Marines, just as his dad (Blair Underwood) had done years before. Not to be refused, Jeff promises he will get Owen a recording contract by Friday, setting up a seemingly impossible deadline. Jeff hustles frantically, pressing everyone he knows to get him into a secret French Montana concert. There Jeff's sister, Alicia (Shelley Hennig), the girl of Owen's dreams, is singled out by French and whisked away. Owen now pursues Alicia, losing track of Jeff, who is still pursuing the producer. They are refused entry at French's after party, so they visit a strip joint and invite several scantily clad women along and the party's door opens. One stripper's jilted ex follows them and a fight ensues, resulting in bloody wounds and bruised egos. As Owen is en route to Marine training, Jeff calls with competing record contract offers from producers who have seen another viral video of Owen spontaneously rapping and getting into a fight.
Is it any good?
This movie often drags, despite a solid performance by Kyle Harvey as Owen. Ironically, while he's endearing as an actor, his talents as a rapper, supposedly the gift that drives him in The After Party, seem a bit underwhelming. The movie is constructed as a fantasy in which every scene is propelled by some far-fetched goal: rapping in front of a producer, hanging with him at a concert, meeting him at an after-party. The energy the guys exert in overcoming many obstacles posed to these goals fuels the movie, but also obscures the fact that achieving the goals in no way guarantees Owen the riches, fame, or success he seems to seek.
Equally shaky is Owen's assumption that his career is over after one viral video as Seezjaboy. And also unrealistic is the idea that you can show up at Parris Island, the Marine training base, without enlisting first, or enlist and then just not show up owing to a last-minute recording contract. Just about every motivating, tension-building development in this plot is weak, if not downright false, which is funny since the movie's main message suggests that nothing is more important than authenticity. Older teens may be willing to suspend enough disbelief to enjoy this movie despite its flaws.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it means to be successful. In The After Party, Owen's dad is a great father who supports his son's dreams. He runs a restaurant and the family lives modestly. Jeff has gold watches and drives his dad's Rolls Royce but he feels neglected because his work-obsessed father is never there for him. Which man do you think is more successful? Why?
Why do you think Owen wants to get a record contract? If Owen is so passionate about rapping, why do you think he gives up just because he is mocked on the internet?
Do you think the frequent use of explicit language enhances or dilutes the impact of the movie's dialogue? When harsh language is used in every other sentence, do you think it numbs the audience to its possible effectiveness? Why or why not?
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