House Party is a series of hip-hop comedy films that began as starring vehicles for the rap duo Kid 'N Play (Christopher Reid and Christopher Martin). As the title suggest, each movies find the protagonists hosting a party, though at different locations and for different reasons.
The first movie, released in 1990, was centered around a house party hosted by Play as his folks were out of town. Kid is invited of course among a slew of other friends. However the day of the party, he gets in trouble with the local bullies (R&B group Full Force) and causes a fight at his school. His father (comedian Robin Harris) is informed of this and bars Kid from going to the party. Kid manages to sneak out anyway and hilarity ensues both at the party and afterward proving to be a long night for everyone involved.
The second film (1991) sets Kid, now living with Play after his father died (as Harris had died not long after finishing the first movie) off to college thanks to some charity of his local church. This is much to the chagrin of his friend who wants Kid to go into music with him after they got the attention of a record producer. Misfortune however befalls Kid no sooner then he starts his semester after he gets conned out of his tuition money. One thing leads to another before the duo wind up hosting a party on the campus to help Kid stay in college.
The third movie (1994) see Kid getting married to his girlfriend Veda (who was introduced in this movie rather than his past girlfriend Sidney (Tisha Campbell). Play meanwhile has gone into the music business as a manager to a female rap trio, Sex as a Weapon (TLC). Of course though things get complicated before everything winds down to a bachelor party thrown for Kid. This film was notable for debuting Chris Tucker and featuring the rap group Immature (later known as IMx) who play Kid's nephews. It was the last movie to feature a plot revolving around Kid 'N Play but not the last to feature them altogether.
And speaking of IMx, seven years after part 3 came and went in the theaters. A fourth movie was made in 2001 that was an egregiously low-budget direct to video feature, staring said rap group. Subtitled Down To The Last Minute, the film focuses on Jon Jon (Marques Houston, playing a completely different character from the third movie) house sitting for his rich and overly strict Uncle Charles's mansion, being told right from the get-go not to have anyone over, especially Jon Jon’s best friends: Mark and T (Jerome Jones and Kelton "LDB" Kessee, Houston's fellow bandmates). Of course Jon Jon quickly disobeys him once he’s out of sight and throws a bash. Inevitably Charles' vacation goes south and he's set to come home, forcing Jon Jon and his friends to frantically fix up the house or face Charles' wraith.
After that film was poorly received and flopped in sales, the series supposedly fell by the wayside and was thought finished. But much to many a surprise, a fifth film, Tonight's The Night, was released in 2013. A legacy sequel to the ‘90s trilogy, this film instead features new characters and follows the protagonist Chris (Tequan Richmond) finishing high school but will end up leaving his best friend and crush. So he plans a party for her which of course leads to complications and hijinks. Like the last film, it was a direct to video fare and even features a cameo by Kid 'N Play reprising the roles of their fictional selves. In the years that have passed since the third movie, the pair now have their own record label - accomplishing a goal they decided on at the end of the second movie and pursued throughout the third. No other characters from the Kid n Play era are featured or mentioned.
In 2022, a modernized sixth film was produced by LeBron James’ production company Spring Hill Entertainment. This time around, house cleaners and aspiring club promoters Damon and Kevin decide to host a giant blowout at Lebron's mansion while he's away in an attempt to make some big money after being fired from their job. Several big-name entertainers and sportspeople, including James himself, are confirmed to appear in the movie, alongside previous franchise stars Kid 'N Play reprising their roles in an unknown capacity. The film was set to debut on HBO Max in August 2022, but was instead transferred to a theatrical release by Warner Bros. Discovery, dated for January 13, 2023.
House Party and its sequels provide the following tropes:
- Battle Rapping: The climax of the first film has Kid and Play facing off in a rap battle. Kid, who was derided by Play for having bad lyrics earlier in the film, wins the battle.
- Betty and Veronica: Sydney (the Betty) and her cousin Sharane (the Veronica) compete for the affections of their crush Kid (the Archie) in the first film.
- Be Yourself: Uncle Vester (Bernie Mac) tells Kid to do this in a hilarious way:Uncle Vester: Boy, just be yourself. If people don't like you for being yourself... FUCK 'EM! Let me tell you something. I scored with a girl when I was about your age. I try to please her poppa all the time; wen' out my way to please her poppa. I came in one day, I said, "Nice weather we having." He said, "You can't say that. You can't say that; it might rain." I said, "Nice tie you got on." "You can't say that; wife try to choke me with it." Point I'm trying to tell you, son, is be yourself. People who don't like ya for being yourself... FUCK 'EM! FUCK 'EM AGAINST THE WALL, WITH HANDCUFFS ON AND CRAZY GLUE ON THEIR LIPS!
- Brick Joke: The first film begins at a party that literally blows the roof off the house. At the end of the film, it drops down on two very racist cops that were hassling Kid and later his dad during the movie.
- The Casanova: Play, who is always either surrounded by various women, or sleeping around.
- Caught Coming Home Late: At the end of the first movie, Kid's father catches up to him. Cue the hilarious monologue punctuated by belt cracks and cries of pain.
- Celebrity Paradox: The Dance-Off between Kid 'N Play and Sydney & Sharene is to the song "Ain't My Type of Hype" by Full Force. But Full Force plays the guys bullying Kid. So who's song is this in-universe?
- Downplayed with Kid 'N Play themselves. They've performed some of their real-life album cuts throughout the movies, but they're acknowledged as up-and-coming rappers in-universe, so it can be assumed they recorded some of those songs in-universe, too.
- Corporal Punishment: Kid's father, Mr. Harris, threatens to beat him with his belt if he disobeys his orders, and as noted above, makes good on his warning at the very end of the first movie.
- Creator Cameo: In the first film, the Hudlin brothers, who wrote and directed the film, appear early in the movie as the two house robbers being chased by a dog. Bébé's Kids, which was also produced by the Hudlins, would also feature them in an identical cameo.
- Cringe Comedy: The second movie, which acknowledges its More Diverse Sequel status by bringing up awkward racial situations.
- Denser and Wackier: The sequels abandon the first film’s more grounded/sentimental tone, in favor of over-the-top raunchy humor.
- Determinator: Kid's father goes through a lot to track down his son. But his resolve never falters. Similarly, Kid himself goes through hell and back to get to the party and then get back home in one piece, but never gives up.
- Disguised in Drag: Pee-wee somehow disguises himself as a cheerleader to let them know about Play's party.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Barely averted. In the first movie, Stab and his brothers attempt to crash the titular party (mostly to mess with Kid), but are both kept out of the house, and punked off by Kid and several other partygoers. In response, Stab tries to burn down Play's house,note and gets as far as dousing the outside in gasoline, but is stopped by the cops right before he could light a match.
- Dumbass DJ: Bilal, who constantly makes poor decisions regarding his equipment and doesn't seem to care about other people's property in the midst of transporting it.
- Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off!: Kid's dad, Mr. Harris, threatens him with this should he disobey his orders. He does so by the end of the first film during a monologue at the end credits.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the first movie Stab (the bully that hassles Kid at the start) after getting rejected to Play's party, decides to burn the place down in retribution. His two brothers Pee-Wee and Zilla are repulsed and admit that the idea is too extreme. Beating people is one thing but burning them, which could lead to fatalities, is crossing the line.
- Kid and his crush Sydney sharing a passionate makeout in her bedroom before he leaves to avoid being caught by her parents.
- Fan Disservice: In the first film and its sequel, a couple being spotted having sex from their bedroom window by the teenagers outrunning the bullies? Fanservice. The other half of that same couple being an obese man? Disservice.
- Fanservice Extra: The sequels have random sex scenes, such as an overweight man seen having sex with his lover before he chases after Kid, Play and the bullies with a weapon for peeking on him.
- Gilligan Cut: In the second movie, when Bilal suggests that Kid ask Sydney for college money, Kid, who doesn't want to take advantage of her, refuses. The next scene has him doing just that.
- Heel–Face Turn: The bullies later end up helping Kid out at the end of the second movie.
- The Immodest Orgasm: In the second film, Play closes the record store he manages early just so he can have sex with a random woman he met earlier in the same day, under the false pretenses that he’ll let her sing backup on his demo in return. The woman has a screaming orgasm so absurdly loud and manic, that it literally causes an earthquake. Once the woman realizes she has been duped, she angrily confronts Play about it. The best answer he can give her is not to “sweat him”.
- Insult Backfire: Throughout the first movie, Stab and co. were harassing Kid for being weak, repeatedly chanting "I smell PUSSY!" whenever they saw him. When they said it again to Kid and several others when attempting to crash the party, Kid and co. sting them with this as they leave:
- Kid: Well, I guess we would smell like pussy, to a bunch of...
All: (in unison) DICKS!
- Interrupted Intimacy: In the first film, on his way to the party Kid jumps over a fence where a fat man named Roughouse is having sex with his wife, and is shot at by Roughouse.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It can be really hard to like Play sometimes, but when push comes to shove, he really does look out for his friends, which he proves at the end of 2 when he sells his Mustang to recoup Kid's college fund.
- Jerkass: The bullies, who torture Kid every chance they get. They do grow out of this a little once they decide to help Kid and Play throw their party, though.
- Love Triangle: Sydney/Kid/Sharane in the first film, which gets resolved quickly before the ending.
- Nutritional Nightmare: In 1, Sidney's cousin Peanut poured almost an entire bag of sugar into a gallon of Kool-Aid. Those in the household who drank it ended up falling asleep.
- Oh, Crap!: Kid's expression when he's Caught Coming Home Late. As he is about to get into bed, he looks up to find his father holding a belt. Pop tells him "I wouldn't do that just yet", snaps his belt, and says "cause your ass is mine".
- One-Steve Limit: Justified. Since Kid and Play share the same first name in real life (Christopher), Play's first name was changed to Peter for the films, thus partially subverting The Danza.
- Only Sane Man: Kid, also a Dogged Nice Guy and Straight Man. Whether he's either just trying to have fun, or find some stability in his life, he's either being tormented by Stab and his brothers, roped into one of Play's stupid schemes, surrounded by less-than-pleasant relatives, or simply screwed over by plain old bad luck.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Kid in the second movie when he punches out a rich white kid to get his Status Cell Phone.
- Political Overcorrectness: Dean Kramer in the second movie, who seems like a Dean Bitterman at first, but is overly concerned about race relations at his school. It's implied he gave Kid another week to pay his tuition because he was concerned about getting into trouble with his superiors if he didn't.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Jamal, Kid's white roommate from the second movie, who does everything he can to look and sound black. Eventually Kid, Play, and Bilal accept and befriend him.
- Prison Rape: Subverted; Kid is nearly raped by several criminals while stuck in central booking for an unjust arrest, but manages to keep them off his back by freestyle rapping until Play bails him out.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: When Stab starts to throttle Kid, the DJ breaks a record over Stab's head. Stab's response is to give the guy a look that could melt steel.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Robin Harris, who played Kid's father in the first movie, died of a heart attack just days after the movie was released. Instead of recasting him for the second movie, his death was used to write out Kid's father.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Kid, when he's inevitably caught and punished at the end of the first movie by his dad, lets out some extremely high-pitched shrieks of pain as his dad belt-whips him.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Kid and Play, respectively. While Kid is a Nice Guy who doesn't hesitate to look out for his friends, cares for his dates, and resolves conflicts without resorting to violence, Play is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who wants to enjoy his life with music regardless of who he has to step on, though it takes a lot to show that he cares too.
- Sneaking Out at Night: Kid, after being grounded by his dad for getting into a fight at school, sneaks out to the titular party while his dad is asleep watching Dolemite. Unfortunately for Kid, his dad hears him leave, and he's almost immediately hassled by both dirty cops, and the bullies from school on his way to the party, on top of his dad being on the warpath looking for him; leading to a long night of chases and close calls for Kid.
- Stern Teacher: Professor Sinclair in the second movie. While it seems like he's out to humiliate Kid at first, he ultimately proves that he cares for him and his education, even offering him a job as his student assistant to ensure he can stay at the school after he loses his tuition again.
- Surprisingly Happy Ending: At the end of the second movie, it seems like Kid has to drop out of college after he decides to give the party proceeds to Mr. Lee to help him clean up the hall, but at the last minute, Play sells Foreplay, his Mustang, and gives the profits to Kid, allowing him to keep going. Also, Play gets a job as a photographer from the guy he sold it to, and Bilal gets to help him. On top of Rick and Selena finally getting caught and arrested for their time as Con Men and the bullies getting promoted, its implied even if Kid and Sidney don't get back together, they'll reconcile and stay good friends.
- The '90s: The first three movies really show it. Considering they were made during rap music's time in the mainstream, its not surprising.
- Wild Teen Party: A series staple, excluding 3, which was a bachelor party. And each one has all the hallmarks of one: Underage drinking, no supervision, property damage, fights, and at least one thwarted instance of party crashing.
- With Friends Like These...: How Kid manages to stick with Play as a friend after some of the crap he's pulled should've granted him sainthood.
- You Need a Breath Mint: Bilal, who's breath is so poor, Sydney calls him "dragon breath".