Get down with your bad self!
Please, for the love of all that's holy DON'T make me go through the history of all the House Party movies. That's the equivalent being forced to pass a kidney stone the size of a go-kart out my rear. I'll just go on record stating as that Kid N' Play, the poor man's version of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, should never be allowed to act on celluloid again. That being said, the good news is that they're nowhere to be found in New Line Cinema's House Party 4: Down To The Last Minute. Starring the rap group IMx and a bunch of people I've never heard of (then again, I am 25), House Party 4 shakes its booty all over your DVD player with earth shattering results.
Facts of the Case
Every kid dreams of the day his or her parents go away on vacation. That mystical time is when the youth of tomorrow makes their plans for the party of today!
When John-John's (Marques Houston) Uncle Charles (David Roberson) takes off for a vacation in the Bahamas, it's up to John-John to take care of Charles's luxurious mansion. John-John is playing sick and fools both his mother (Kim Whitley) and father into thinking he has a touch of the flu bug. However, John-John's sister Monique (Alexis Field, TV's Moesha) knows that he's up to something sneaky.
Uncle Charles has trepidations, but because he needs his vacation, decides to leave the sickly John-John in charge. As soon as the door slams behind Charles, John-John is up and ready to shake his thang all over his new pad with his girlfriend Tina (Meagan Good). Calling over his two best friends Mark (Jerome Jones) and T (Kelton Kessee), they plan a bash so big it will make the Playboy Mansion parties look like a junior high school dance. As a bonus, John-John, T, and Mark might even have a shot at getting a record deal!
However, when things start getting out of hand (i.e., Uncle Charles expensive car gets wrecked, two fat girls are all over Mark and T, et cetera). John-John and his buddies could be in big trouble! Will the party bring down the house…or will it being down them?
I'm obviously not the intended target audience for House Party 4: Down To The Last Minute. This movie is made for kids and teens who never ever saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Why? Because House Party 4 is a blatant rip-off of that classic '80s teen comedy. And when I say blatant, I mean blatant. There's the jealous sister, the phony * cough cough * I'm sick act, the old picking up the girlfriend at school by pretending to be a parent trick, and not to mention the whole freakin' storyline!
But, I'm getting all worked up over nothing. In the bonus footage star Marques Houston makes mention of the Ferris Bueller coincidence, so at least this movie knows what it's plagiarizing. House Party 4: Down To The Last Minute is really very harmless entertainment. Very, VERY harmless. The theory on the set must have been that if a joke's not funny, say it LOUDER. Not only louder, but also bigger and more exaggerated! As we all know, if a joke's going to bomb, make it bomb big. Every actor in this film is playing the script for obnoxious laughs, especially David Roberson as poor old Uncle Charles. Blustering and blubbering his way through this movie seems to be the only way to go, and Roberson succeeds with flying colors. The rest of the acting is really very amateurish, but what else do you expect from a film with the number "4" after it?
Characters are only on-screen to laugh at or to be poked fun at. Hey look, it's an elderly auto mechanic being played by a twenty-something kid! Isn't that John-John in a dress, trying to pass himself off as a 50-year-old woman? And who doesn't find two fat girls funny? The only thing missing in House Party 4 are guest appearances by Jackee and Marla Gibbs.
The script is punctuated with all kinds of in-jokes and rap songs, including a performance by its three young stars, IMx. I'm sure that kids will find this movie very funny. There was enough slap-sticky antics and loony jokes to tickle their cinematically inexperienced funny bones. If by chance you're over the age of twelve, you're going to need a vodka gimlet and some shooters to make it all the way through House Party 4: Down To The Last Minute…and the last minute was exactly what I was waiting for.
House Party 4 is featured in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and a standard full frame version. The picture quality for House Party 4 looked pretty good, though there were some slight imperfections noticed during a few of the scenes. These included edge enhancement and a small amount of shimmer. Otherwise, the transfer looks decent. Colors were sharp with blacks being solid.
Audio is featured in both Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as Dolby Surround 2.0. Dialogue and effects were all mixed evenly, though the music sometimes faded in and out during scene transitions. The 5.1 track makes use of the surround feature mostly during the party scenes and scenes featuring a pulsating musical soundtrack. Otherwise neither track is overly impressive. English subtitles are also included.
House Party 4: Down To The Last Minute features some bonus material for you fanatical House Party fans. First up is a full frame "Behind-The-Scenes" featurette that runs about 25 minutes long. This featurette includes interviews with stars IMx, Kim Whitley, and Meagan Goo, among others. The featurette also includes some behind-the-scenes footage, clips from the film, and the filmmaker's in-depth thoughts about the movie and the impact it will have worldwide (uh, just kidding about that last part).
Also included is a music video for the song "Clap Your Hands" by IMx. Needless to say, I was absolutely riveted by all the booty shakin' and hip grindin' going on around the singers. Finally there are three trailers, including House Party, House Party 2, and the Oscar winning House Party 3.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Like some out of control train wreck, you can already see the collateral damage coming long before the actual incident happens. And like the train wreck, I'd just prefer to just quickly clean up the mess and try to put it out of my mind.
If you thought the first three House Party movies were gut-busters, then you've just found your calling in House Party 4: Down To The Last Minute. Like a Kevin Smith film, House Party 4 is designed for a specific audience, and I wasn't it. On the flipside, House Party 4 includes a decent transfer, decent audio, and (thankfully) a small amount of supplemental material.
[Editor's Note: You know what I find really funny? The listing at the Internet Movie Database doesn't list a single screenwriter for this film. That's gotta say something…]
As a movie for teens, it's slapped with only a minor fine. For adults it's as enjoyable as licking a dirty nail file.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
• Behind-The-Scenes Featurette
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