House Party: Hudlin Brothers Debut

In House Party, the first feature by the Hudlin brothers (Reginald writes and directs; Warrington produces), black suburban teens try to throw a party without being hassled by their parents or the cops.

Though slight, this comedy was more joyful and less cloying than its counterparts, 1960s white teen-party movies. In the past, there was a clear division: nice black kids were on TV, bad ones in film. House Party was perhaps the first picture devoted to the innocent side of black suburbanite, who don’t do drugs and are careful about sex. There are thugs, but they’re harmless, and all the dangers are safely whisked away.

A buoyant comedy of teen-age manners, set in an idealized and sanitized society, House Party is about a sealed world, where avoiding an irate parent, side-tracking a report card and getting to a party on time is always fraught with danger. Unlike most teen-age movies, which attempt to impose an adult, moralizing view, House Party displayed light, witty touch, though eventually it too succumbs to responsibility lessons. Style is more important than plot: The Hudlins avoid “important” themes and weighty dialogue in favor of exuberantly spontaneous behavior.

The upbeat comedy was followed by an animated TV series, Kid ‘n Play, and two sequels based on characters created by Reginald, who sold the franchise. The first House Party contained comic highlights and mishaps about a watchful father, vicious dogs, inept cops, and neighborhood bullies, all obstacles to Kid’s attending Play’s late night jam.

The less imaginative sequel, House Party 2 (1991), turned socially-conscious and preached for education among black teenagers.