It’s been a long 25 years since “House Party” opened in theaters across the country, helping to usher in what would become a 1990s “new wave” in black cinema – one that I think many of us who were around at the time (I was still in high school then), remember quite fondly.
The movie, starring the then popular rap group Kid ‘n Play (Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin), and written and directed by Reginald Hudlin, went on to gross over $26 million at the box office (or around $50 million in today’s dollars). It spawned 2 sequels which didn’t quite capture the magic and thrill of the first one, and subsequently each (numbers 2 and 3, released in 1991 and 1994 respectively) actually earned less than number 1.
In recent years, it even inspired stage adaptations of the movie, including a 2010 production in London, which put a British spin on the material, production by Real Drama, which is an entirely youth-led theatre company. As I recall reading, it played to sell-out houses during its run, and traveled.
Over the years, there’s been imitations, flattering and not-so-much; as there can only be one!
And if you live in NYC (or will be in the city next week Friday June 26, at 7 pm), you can relieve (or, if you’ve never seen the film before, be introduced to) the theatrical moment all over again, when the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, will screen the film on its 25th anniversary, as part of its monthly series, “Changing the Picture,” an monthly series exploring the film and TV work of artists of color, and the diverse voices they bring to the screen.
The program is organized by Warrington Hudlin (producer of the film), President of the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF) and Trustee of Museum of the Moving Image, who will also moderate a discussion with members of the cast and crew.
Tickets are $15 each ($9 for Museum members at the Film Lover, Dual, and Family levels; and free for Silver Screen members and above).
I expect this will be an attraction for many, so you’re encouraged to pick up your tickets it advance at movingimage.us.
“Written and directed by Reginald Hudlin, ‘House Party’ was released in 1990 to critical praise and box office success. Roger Ebert favorably compared the film to a musical – one that depicts “black teenagers with a freshness and originality that’s rare in modern movies.” The film’s set-up is simple: a grounded teen (Reid) sneaks out of his house to attend the ultimate house party, where an epic night of dance contests, rap battles, and flirtation awaits. With its day-glo colors and dynamite soundtrack of old-school hip-hop, ‘House Party’ captures the music, fashion, and spirit of the early ‘90s with infectious exuberance. The film also features a cameo by George Clinton. The commercial success of House Party opened the door to a new wave of films with rappers in the starring role, including ‘Juice’ (1992) with Tupac Shakur and ‘Belly’ (1998) with Nas and DMX.”
Here’s a refresher: