21 January 2006 | film-critic
Pajama Jams pay for College?
To begin, House Party 2 is no House Party. In fact, those that would like to compare the two are completely off their hypothetical film "rocker". These are two completely separate films. Do you know why? What originally began as a film about some soulful and youthful teens trying to get to the ultimate dance party has now transformed into this cliché morality tale that demonstrates the power of friendship and the strength of humility. WHAT! Is that why I wanted to watch this film? I apologize, but one of the few reasons that I liked House Party was because they followed the K.I.S.S. method (for those unfamiliar it is the Keep It Simple Stupid method) of film-making. In the original, becoming a lyricist, a ladies man, and having the best party in town was the root of the film. While there was a romantic side to the story, it fell second nature to the growing hip-hop scene. It was a dance film first, developed character story second. Honestly, that is what I enjoyed about the film. While I didn't think House Party was the greatest release of the century, it did have this genuine feel about it. In fact, after watching this poorly crafted sequel, I have a bit more respect for the original. Where was the dancing? Where was the creativity? Where was the same Kid & Play that I remembered from the first House Party? They were nowhere to be found in this trashy sequel.
Robin Harris. We all remember him as "Pop" from the original film, but what we do not realize about this humorous comedian is that he subsequently changed the image of the House Party series. In the original, he was this father trying to steer his son into a path of academia instead of rap and parties, in the sequel, he plays a spirit who annoyingly hounds Kid throughout the film with flashbacks from the original. Due to his death, he brings nothing new to the table, yet this entire sequel seems to be focused around those few short words that he used in the first film. I don't mean to be rude, but I never felt that the father was such a big element in the original. I thought that Kid trying to challenge authority to attempt to find himself was the underlying meaning of the original, while in this one it is Kid repressing his true self in hopes to make his dead father happy. Where did the lightness of the original go? I watched House Party 2 thinking that there is a limit that the writers could go without making Kid seem totally whipped by his father's words, but we never hit that limit. Where, anywhere in this film, was Kid trying to find his rap roots? I needed to see a young man still interested in becoming the lyricist that he once desired to be? Why did he have to grow up so fast? In fact, the rap side-story to this film seems to be the negative element. We have gone from loving the genre to completely disrespecting it in one film. Ah, the power of the sequel.
Martin Lawrence was again completely annoying to the point in which I completely tuned him out whenever he spoke. He brought nothing to the story and nothing to the main characters. Lawrence was nothing more than a familiar face for the audience to relate to. In fact, it is that dedication to familiar faces from the original that hurt this sequel. When the ultimate PAJAMA JAM finally does occur (one hour into this short film), we are hit with an barrage of repetitive scenes of aged rappers and comedians from the original who do nothing but repeat their lines, actions, and emotions from the first. While many may enjoy these familiar faces, I felt as if it were a cheap trick used to make me feel more comfortable about the film. If these minor characters had done more than just repeat their lines, than maybe I would have bought into the trick, but instead all I saw were cheap repetitive motions used by writers to fill time. I used the word "repetitive" several times in this paragraph because it demonstrated the annoying repetitive nature of this film and completed my point about using that element as a cheap trick. I hope it worked.
In most television series, especially the cheapened kind, we sometimes hear a laugh track or a sound machine used to create some "zany" or "wacky" sound that lightens the mood and creates the viable laugh point. In House Party 2, I do believe that the sound guy was extremely drunk or possibly working his first day in the booth. There were more sound effects in this film than in a Bobby McFerrin music video. Was this a child's movie or another urban comedy? Neither Kid nor Play could do anything in this film without a "zip zim" or a "whoosh" or a "ding dong" noise happening somewhere in the background. This was a fresh element to the sequel which direly needed to be taken away. There is a chase scene near the end of the film which felt like Pee-Wee Herman choreographed it with all the unsettling sounds that were happening. After the first twenty minutes of this, it because increasingly annoying to the point of insanity.
Overall, this sequel soils the original. The themes were sporadic (i.e. in one instance we are talking about the oppression of the African American, while in the other the directors seem to be building age-old stereotypes), the characters continued towards their bland downward spiral, those annoying, randomly placed racist police officers were back, and the dominating "father" element seemed too serious for the overall theme of this film. I hope this film wasn't an indication of the path of colleges in the future? House Party 3, don't fail me now!
Grade: ** out of *****