'House Party 3' is not merely disappointing, it's also offensive

January 14, 1994|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Film Critic

This frail doddering beast we call civilization takes another kick in the groin in the savagely disappointing "House Party 3," featuring the heretofore amusing rappers Kid 'n Play.

The two young men (Christopher Reid and Christopher Martin) have been agreeable presences in the first two items in this series, particularly the first, which was directed by Reginald Hudlin and had a sly, off-handed charm to it.

The second was unmemorably routine. This one is actually offensive.

Basically conceived as lame farce, it watches as the decent, about-to-be-married Kid tries to assemble a bachelor's party for himself on the eve of the ceremony. But he is continually subverted by sharper, quicker characters, including three baby rappers (the group Immature, in an amusing movie debut), who manage to get the stripper he'd hired to their house instead of his.

Other mild subplots are threaded clumsily through this central -- situation, many of them turning on Kid 'n Play's attempts to become music producers by signing up new rap talent and then selling the contracts to bigger packagers. The film, alas, doesn't offer much of a showcase for young, talented black groups, which is a shame.

What it does showcase is the worst kind of hostility, seething just under the surface of literally every exchange. In fact, the movie's central comic device is the penchant for violence, either verbal or physical, which comes blasting out of the most astonishing characters at the drop of the pin. The movie finds it comic to watch as routine chatter wobbles toward psychotic meltdown time after time after time.

The two young men go to a catering shop to order a plate for the party, and soon the caterers are screaming about how they'll shoot the two, and using the N-word with such wanton disregard that it made an old liberal's head spin and stomach heave.

A business negotiation becomes a carnival of testosterone; a family dinner goes berserk when "Uncle Vester" (Chicago comedian Bernie Mac) goes buggy after a child disrespects him (they will do that, you know). He literally rises from the table as if to unleash the considerable force of his 250 pounds against an 8-year-old, and Kid is muttering "Now calm down, calm down," which is pretty much the mantra of the movie.

At the same time, the movie is monstrous toward women.

"House Party 3" isn't a party except for anarchists and nihilists. It isn't funny. But the worst thing about it is that it's part of the problem, not the solution.

"House Party 3"

L Staring Kid n Play (Christopher Reid and Christopher Martin)

Directed by Eric Meza

Released by New Line Cinema


No stars

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