House Party 2 (1991)

house-party2Kid has had a tough road ahead of him. In the original “House Party” we learn his mom died, and when we meet him in the sequel his father has died too. This is obviously to coincide with the death of comedian Robin Harris who played Kid’s father in the original, and it’s sad he couldn’t present us with a funny performance for this sequel. He was hilarious in the original, and a great foil for Kid. This time around Kid is living with Play, now an orphan, and is on his way to college. This is a great addition to Kid’s back story and adds some real emotional anchor to the film, because Kid is now pressured to live up to his dad’s legacy and achieve an education that his dad was so desperate for him to accomplish.

The opening of the film is surprisingly dramatic with Kid receiving a scholarship from his local church and moving to a new environment where his antics aren’t tolerated. This sequel is much more star studded with appearances by Whoopi Goldberg and a supporting performance by Queen Latifah, but sadly that’s about all it has going for it. “House Party 2” is lacking in an actual party until the climax rolls around where the original film was almost an actual party from minute one. “House Party 2” is a rather preachy and melodramatic film that improves on characters but not much on story. The musical aspect of the premise is severely downplayed in favor of lecturing the audience on African American history, and education. The writers take the movie much too seriously and this detracts from the escapist spirit of the original.

Once we get to the party it’s also an after thought and meant as nothing more than a plot device to elicit some brief musical numbers, and references to the original film that are welcome but fall flat. The climax is built around slapstick involving people chasing one another and a cheesy confrontation between Kid and the film’s antagonist and there’s really nothing more beyond a feel good drama about Kid struggling to make it through life. It’s a shame that the sequel loses the spirit of the original film, because the original was such a blast and this feels like a pale imitation at times. Sure it has its moments (Martin Lawrence is a scene stealer as returning character Bilal), but overall it’s lacking in Reginald Hudlin’s spirit and flair. It’s preachy, melodramatic, and takes itself way too seriously, which is a shame because the original film is a good time with potential for an even better follow up. Overall it has its moments, but it’s not much for escapist material.