thank you brond james (CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot)

Starring: Jacob Latimore, Tosin Cole, DC Young Fly, Karen Obilom, Andrew Santino, Melvin Gregg, Rotimi, Allen Maldonado, Kid Cudi, LeBron James, Mýa

Director: Calmatic

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Party Vices and a Shockingly Violent Turn in the Final Act

Release Date: January 13, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Kevin (Jacob Latimore) and Damon (Tosin Cole) – that’s duh-MON, not DAY-muhn – have just found out they’re about to be fired from their house cleaning job after getting busted for toking up on the job. But they’ve got a side hustle as party promoters, so they decide to go all in on that venture when they find out that the last house they’re cleaning belongs to none other than LeBron James. The NBA great is away on a mindfulness retreat, so they take over his crib for one wild night in the hopes of clearing their debts and launching themselves into the social stratosphere. Naturally enough, though, chaos ensues. A championship ring is stolen, a koala turns violent, and the Illuminati are contacted. And of course, there’s the whole business about the two friends falling apart but then ultimately becoming closer than ever.

What Made an Impression?: If you weren’t around 30 years ago, you might have missed that 2023’s House Party is a remake of the 1990 flick of the same name that starred hip-hop duo Kid ‘n Play and spawned a couple of sequels. That connection feels rather beside the point, though, as it’s not like the original House Party owns a copyright on any and all depictions of cinematic house parties. If you want to make a movie about a party at someone’s house, it’s not like you need Kid ‘n Play’s permission. Although I suppose the brand name recognition helps, and Kid and Play do in fact stop by for a quick cameo.

In that vein, much of the 2023 edition feels like a time capsule from the 90s or at least the early 2000s. In addition to Kid ‘n Play’s pop-in, Bill Bellamy, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and Snoop Dogg all stop by for some cameos. (Although I guess we can recognize Snoop as eternal at this point.) Plus, there’s a running thread in which Damon tries to book Mýa for the party, and I’m thinking, “Mýa? I haven’t heard from her since ‘Lady Marmalade’!” She still looks great, though!

Anyway, does this 21st century House Party deliver the requisite laughs and welcoming hangout vibes? It’s definitely a little too sleepy at first, as the opening act mostly consists of Kevin and Damon by themselves in a very big house, and there’s just none of the cacophony necessary to fill all that air. When the party eventually starts poppin’, it’s still not exactly a nonstop laugh riot, though there are enough bizarre digressions to at least hold my attention. And Lena Waithe shows up for a scene or two to deliver some chuckle-worthy stoner thoughts. So ultimately, Kevin and Damon string us along on a journey that starts out at Dreadful and ends up at Not Too Bad.

House Party is Recommended If You Like: Movies That Are Surreal But Not Quite Surreal Enough

Grade: 2 out of 5 Koalas