House Party (1990)

R | 105 mins | Comedy | 9 March 1990

Director:

Reginald Hudlin

Writer:

Reginald Hudlin

Producer:

Warrington Hudlin

Cinematographer:

Peter Deming

Editor:

Earl Watson

Production Designer:

Bryan Jones
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HISTORY


       As noted in various contemporary sources, including a 4 Mar 1990 LAT article and production notes in AMPAS library files, brothers Warrington and Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin were raised in the predominantly African-American industrial community of East St. Louis, IL, but moved east to study at Ivy League Universities, Yale and Harvard, respectively. Warrington, the older Hudlin, decided to become a filmmaker in 1971 after seeing Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971, see entry) and watching director Gordon Parks sign autographs at a screening of Shaft (1971, see entry). According to LAT, the events prompted Warrington to understand that “a black could be a director” and he proceeded to produce short films at Yale. After graduating in 1974, however, Warrington was unable to break into the film industry. He noted that studio heads and filmmakers were predominately white, and were generally skeptical that African-American movies were economically viable. In response, Warrington collaborated with two fellow Yale alums, George Cunningham and Alric Nembhard, to establish the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF). The New York City organization, which began its work in 1979, helped foster the production, audience base, and criticism of “black film.” BFF reportedly distributed early pictures by Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Spike Lee.
       Meanwhile, Reggie Hudlin was motivated by the efforts of his older brother, particularly after the 1980 BFF-sponsored National Conference of Black Independent Filmmakers. At the time, Reggie was studying at Harvard, and was galvanized by the opportunity to screen his work in New York City. As BFF continued its efforts to endow black filmmaking with new legitimacy, ... More Less


       As noted in various contemporary sources, including a 4 Mar 1990 LAT article and production notes in AMPAS library files, brothers Warrington and Reginald “Reggie” Hudlin were raised in the predominantly African-American industrial community of East St. Louis, IL, but moved east to study at Ivy League Universities, Yale and Harvard, respectively. Warrington, the older Hudlin, decided to become a filmmaker in 1971 after seeing Melvin Van Peebles’s Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971, see entry) and watching director Gordon Parks sign autographs at a screening of Shaft (1971, see entry). According to LAT, the events prompted Warrington to understand that “a black could be a director” and he proceeded to produce short films at Yale. After graduating in 1974, however, Warrington was unable to break into the film industry. He noted that studio heads and filmmakers were predominately white, and were generally skeptical that African-American movies were economically viable. In response, Warrington collaborated with two fellow Yale alums, George Cunningham and Alric Nembhard, to establish the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF). The New York City organization, which began its work in 1979, helped foster the production, audience base, and criticism of “black film.” BFF reportedly distributed early pictures by Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Spike Lee.
       Meanwhile, Reggie Hudlin was motivated by the efforts of his older brother, particularly after the 1980 BFF-sponsored National Conference of Black Independent Filmmakers. At the time, Reggie was studying at Harvard, and was galvanized by the opportunity to screen his work in New York City. As BFF continued its efforts to endow black filmmaking with new legitimacy, Reggie graduated from Harvard in 1983 with a twenty-minute thesis project titled House Party. The picture won “Best Film” in the New England regional student Academy Awards. According to an Apr 1990 edition of Interview, Reggie conceived the story during the summer before his senior year at Harvard, when he was saving money to finance his thesis film. As he was “packing” to return to school, he heard the song “Bad Boy/Having A Party” by Luther Vandross on the radio. He was first struck by the possibility of making a music video, then realized the song could be adapted into a film narrative. Reggie told Interview that he wrote the House Party script “that night.”
       The Hudlin brothers partnered in 1986 to write and direct music videos for “hip-hop” artists such as the Uptown Crew and Heavy D and the Boyz, as stated in the 4 Mar 1990 LAT . With aspirations of making their first feature film, the brothers presented Reggie’s full-length House Party screenplay to New Line Cinema in late 1987. Although the studio initially passed on the project, the executive of creative affairs, Janet Grillo, took a liking to Reggie’s work. When New Line “changed its mandate to include a wider diversity of films” in late 1988, Grillo put House Party into development and hired Gerald T. Olson as executive producer.
       Principal photography began in Jul 1989, according to a 29 Aug 1989 HR production chart. While the brothers wanted the setting of House Party to reflect their hometown of East St. Louis, the picture was filmed entirely in and around Los Angeles, CA. Reggie Hudlin told Interview that the rap music duo “Kid ‘N Play” were cast in the lead roles after he saw them perform on Black Entertainment Television (BET). The two announced their intent to become actors and appealed to film producers to “check us out.” Reggie immediately responded.
       As noted in studio production notes, the Hudlin brothers insisted on a well-integrated crew and ended up with a production team that was “more than 60% African-American in an industry where crews are usually less than 5% African-American.” Various contemporary sources, including a 9 Feb 1990 LA Weekly article, listed a budget of $2.5 million.
       The film premiered on 20 Jan 1990 at the U.S. Film Festival [Sundance], where it won a Cinematography Award for Peter Deming and a Filmmakers Trophy for Reggie Hudlin. The writer-director was also nominated for a Grand Jury Prize. Despite the acclaim, New Line’s marketing and distribution plans were very conservative, and unacceptable to the Hudlins. The opening was “timed to capitalize on the current rap craze,” according to LA Weekly, but New Line was concerned the audience would be limited to black young adults. In addition, Motown Records planned to delay release of the House Party soundtrack album until after the film’s national opening, intending to tie in their marketing campaign on audience reception.
       Just over one month after the U.S. Film Festival premiere, however, the 4 Mar 1990 LAT announced that New Line had changed its distribution strategy and was spending nearly $4 million on prints and advertising. Similarly, Motown switched their approach and released the song “Fun House” before the film opened on 9 Mar 1990. House Party was scheduled to screen at 500 venues in approximately 100 markets, but cities including Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, and Boston, MA, were excluded from the initial release because they did not have “sizeable black populations.”
       While the Hudlins told LAT that their previous animosity toward New Line had been allayed, they were not convinced that they wanted to continue their relationship with the company for sequels. According to LA Weekly, Reggie Hudlin had no intension of making a House Party sequel. Neither brother was involved in the production of New Line’s House Party 2 (1991) and House Party 3 (1994, see entries). However, the duo Kid ‘N Play, (Christopher “Kid” Reid and Christopher “Play” Martin), reprised their roles in the two follow-up features.

      End credits include “Special Thanks” to: Stephen D. Barnes and Helena Echegoyen. Additional acknowledgments state: “The Music People That Made It Happen”: Jheryl Busby, Jerry Ade, Lyor Cohen, Lisa Cortez, Mario Gonzalez, Iris Gordy, Gene Griffin, Archie Ivy, Pat Rains, Timmy Regisford, Russell Simmons, Andy Tavel, Richard Walters, Ron Wilcox, Kurt Woodley, Famous Artists Agency, Inc.; “Additional Thanks”: Carmen Ashhurst, Nadine Baker, Ruth Burghard, Tina Green, Cynthia Manley, Marusa Reyes; “Footage from ‘Hey Love…’ commercial courtesy of Hey Love Productions © 1986. All Rights Reserved”; “Promotional Consideration”: Picture Vehicle Rentals, Florian Enterprises, Associated Film Promotions, Kool-Aid, Vision Street Wear, Frankie Corporation, Cast Security, Jet and Ebony Magazine, Carnation Milk, Dick Gregory’s Slim-Safe Bahamian Diet, Anvil, Everlast, Cerwin-Vega, Chrysler Motor Corporation of America, Starsuites, Movie Motion, Inc., Marvel Entertainment Group, Fun Products Incorporated, Reebok, Monogram West.

              End credits conclude with the following statements: “Support black fimmaking, join the Black Filmmaking Foundation (NYC)” and, “Filmed on location in Los Angeles, Monrovia, and the Culver Studios.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Jan 1990
p. 2, 58.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jan 1990
p. 4, 28.
Interview
Apr 1990.
---
LA Weekly
9 Feb 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Mar 1990
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
9 Mar 1990
p. 4.
New York Times
9 Mar 1990
p. 14.
Variety
7 Feb 1990
p. 32.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
The Hudlin Bros. Present
A New Line Cinema Production
A Film by Reginald Hudlin
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Steadicam op
2d asst cam
Loader
Loader
Rigging gaffer
Best boy elec
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
Gaffer, 2d unit
Elec, 2d unit
2d elec, 2d unit
Still photog
Grip and elec equip
Dolly
Dolly
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Storyboard artist
Title artist
FILM EDITORS
Lead asst ed
1st asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
Ediflex consultant
Ediflex consultant
Ed on
SET DECORATORS
Property master
Lead set dresser
Asst props
Swing gang
Swing gang
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Cost asst
Cost asst
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus comp
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Playback musc coord
Mus supv
SOUND
Prod mixer
Boom op
Supv sd ed/A.D.R. ed
Dial ed
Eff ed
Asst sd ed
A.D.R. voice casting
A.D.R. mixer
A.D.R. mixer
A.D.R. mixer
Foley mixer
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eng
Machine room op
Post prod sd services
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff coord
Miniatures and visual eff prod by
DANCE
Dance battle choreog
Dance battle choreog
Dance battle choreog
MAKEUP
Key make-up
2d make-up
Key hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Post prod supv
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod coord
Prod secy
Prod secy
Asst loc mgr
Post prod coord
Exec in charge of prod
Development exec
Prod supv
Prod controller
Unit pub
Asst to the Hudlin Bros.
Casting assoc
Casting asst
Extras casting
Extras cast asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Driver
Driver
Driver
Hydraulic lifts
Craft services
Caterers
Processing by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stunt player
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Bad Boy/Having A Party,” performed by Luther Vandross, written by Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller, Sam Cooke, published by Legs Music, Inc. and ABKCO Music Inc., courtesy of CBS Records
“To Da Break of Dawn,” performed by LL Cool J and Marley Marl, composed by Marley Marl, lyrics by LL Cool J, published by Def Jam Music, Inc (ASCAP)/ LL Cool J Publishing, Inc (ASCAP)/ Marley Marl Music, Inc (ASCAP)/New Line Cinema Productions (ASCAP), LL Cool J appears courtesy of Def Jam/CBS Records
“House Party,” performed by Full Force Family, (Full Force, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, U.T.F.O. Cheryl “Pepsi” Riley, Doctor Ice, Ex-Girlfriend and ECROF), written by Full Force, published for Forceful Music, Inc./ Willesden Music Inc./ New Line Music Corp. (BMI), courtesy of Full Force Productions and Columbia Records
+
SONGS
“Bad Boy/Having A Party,” performed by Luther Vandross, written by Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller, Sam Cooke, published by Legs Music, Inc. and ABKCO Music Inc., courtesy of CBS Records
“To Da Break of Dawn,” performed by LL Cool J and Marley Marl, composed by Marley Marl, lyrics by LL Cool J, published by Def Jam Music, Inc (ASCAP)/ LL Cool J Publishing, Inc (ASCAP)/ Marley Marl Music, Inc (ASCAP)/New Line Cinema Productions (ASCAP), LL Cool J appears courtesy of Def Jam/CBS Records
“House Party,” performed by Full Force Family, (Full Force, Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, U.T.F.O. Cheryl “Pepsi” Riley, Doctor Ice, Ex-Girlfriend and ECROF), written by Full Force, published for Forceful Music, Inc./ Willesden Music Inc./ New Line Music Corp. (BMI), courtesy of Full Force Productions and Columbia Records
"Hey Love,” performed by Delfonics, written by Wilbert Hart, produced by Stan Watson & Company for Stan Watson’s Production, published by Nickleshoe Music, Inc. (BMI), courtesy of Philly Groove Record Company, Inc.
“Run 4 Cover,” performed by Eric B/Rakim, written by Eric Barrier/W. Griffin, published by SBK publishing (BMI), courtesy of MCA Records
“I Can’t Do Nothin For You, Man!” performed by Flavor Flav, written by Flavor Flav, Eric “Vietnam” Sadler, Keith Shocklee, published by Def American Songs/Your Mother’s Music/ Nia Music/ New Line Music Corp. (BMI), Flavor Flav appears courtesy of Def Jam/ CBS Records
“Surely,” performed by Arts & Crafts, written by Arts & Crafts, management by JDW Productions, Inc, published by Cypher Sounds Entertainment, Inc./New Line Productions (ASCAP), courtesy of Apollo Theatre Records/Motown
“Shake It Up,” performed by Jamaica Boys, written by Marcus Miller, Lenny White, Bernard Wright, published by Thriller Miller Music, Adm by MCA Music, a division of MCA Inc. (ASCAP) / Chinese Music (BMI)/ Bernard Wright Music Inc./ Screen Gems – EMI Music Inc (BMI), courtesy of Reprise Records
“Ain’t My Type Of Hype,” performed by Full Force, written by Full Force, published for Forceful Music, Inc./ Willesden Music Inc./ New Line Music Corp. (BMI), courtesy of Full Force Productions and Columbia Records
“What A Feeling,” performed by Arts & Crafts, written by Arts & Crafts, management by JDW Productions, Inc, published by Cypher Sounds Entertainment Inc./ New Line Cinema Productions (ASCAP), courtesy of Apollo Theatre Records/ Motown
“Why You Getting Funky On me,” performed by Today, written by William Aquart, published by Cal-Gene (BMI)/Virgin Songs (BMI), courtesy of Motown
“Always And Forever,” performed by Heatwave, lyrics and music by Rod Temperton, published by Rodsongs (ASCAP), administered by ALMO Music Corp., courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department
“Kid VS. Play,” performed by Kid ‘N Play, written by Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor, produced by Hurby` “Luv Bug” & The Invincibles for Noise in the Attic Productions, published by Sons of K-oss Music/ New Line Cinema Productions (ASCAP), courtesy of Select Records
“Jive Time Sucker,” performed by Force M.D.’s, written by Zan, published by Cal-Gene (BMI)/Virgin Songs (BMI), courtesy of Warner Bros. Records/Tommy Boy Records
“This Is Love,” performed by Kenny Vaughan, written by Kenny Vaughan, published by New Line Music (SESAC)
“Niggerish,” performed by Parliament, written by Andre Foxxe Williams/ Tracey Lewis, published by Exoskeletal Music/New Line Music Corp. (BMI)
“Bull Pen Blues,” performed by Kid ‘N Play, written by Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor, produced by Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor & The Invincibles for Noise in the Attic Productions, published by Sons of K-oss Music/New Line Cinema Productions (ASCAP), courtesy of Select Records
“Funhouse,” performed by Kid ‘N Play, written by Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor, produced by Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor & The Invincibles for Noise in the Attic Productions, published by Sons of K-oss Music/New Line Cinema Productions (ASCAP), courtesy of Select Records.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
9 March 1990
Premiere Information:
U.S. Film Festival [Sundance] premiere: 20 January 1990
Los Angeles opening: 9 March 1990
New York opening: week of 9 March 1990
Production Date:
began July 1989
Copyright Claimant:
New Line Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 April 1990
Copyright Number:
PA464022
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Prints
Metrocolor Ltd., London
Duration(in mins):
105
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30125
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Teenage rap music artist Christopher “Kid” Robinson lives with his widowed father, “Pop,” in a mid-western town. One day at school, the boy is menaced by bullies in the cafeteria, and provokes a fight by throwing Jell-O. When the principal punishes him with a “pink slip,” Kid fears his Pop will forbid him from attending a house party that evening hosted by his friend, “Play,” whose parents are out of town. Before going out, Kid accidentally drops the “pink slip” and Pop prohibits the boy from leaving home. Elsewhere, girl friends Sidney and Sharane prepare for the event, and Sharane encourages her companion to pursue a romance with Kid. At the Robinson residence, Kid sneaks out of the house and unknowingly awakens his father, who is sleeping on the couch. On the way to the party, Kid nearly collides with a Jeep belonging to the school bullies. The ensuing chase finds the boys outside the bedroom window of a couple making love. The male lover shoots at them with a gun in retaliation. Running away from the bullies and police, Kid tries to flag down Play and his disc jockey (D.J.) friend, Bilal, who are driving past. He then finds himself at the upscale “Annual Gala” for a black fraternity. There, Kid instructs a once-famous D.J. to back up his rap act by mixing beats and scratching records. As Kid performs, the bullies arrive, but the D.J. knocks one boy over the head with a record and police detain the youths. The wealthy partygoers, however, refuse to press charges. Kid finally arrives at Play’s party ... +


Teenage rap music artist Christopher “Kid” Robinson lives with his widowed father, “Pop,” in a mid-western town. One day at school, the boy is menaced by bullies in the cafeteria, and provokes a fight by throwing Jell-O. When the principal punishes him with a “pink slip,” Kid fears his Pop will forbid him from attending a house party that evening hosted by his friend, “Play,” whose parents are out of town. Before going out, Kid accidentally drops the “pink slip” and Pop prohibits the boy from leaving home. Elsewhere, girl friends Sidney and Sharane prepare for the event, and Sharane encourages her companion to pursue a romance with Kid. At the Robinson residence, Kid sneaks out of the house and unknowingly awakens his father, who is sleeping on the couch. On the way to the party, Kid nearly collides with a Jeep belonging to the school bullies. The ensuing chase finds the boys outside the bedroom window of a couple making love. The male lover shoots at them with a gun in retaliation. Running away from the bullies and police, Kid tries to flag down Play and his disc jockey (D.J.) friend, Bilal, who are driving past. He then finds himself at the upscale “Annual Gala” for a black fraternity. There, Kid instructs a once-famous D.J. to back up his rap act by mixing beats and scratching records. As Kid performs, the bullies arrive, but the D.J. knocks one boy over the head with a record and police detain the youths. The wealthy partygoers, however, refuse to press charges. Kid finally arrives at Play’s party and the house is packed with dancing teens, but he is displeased to learn there is only one microphone for rapping, and Play is not willing to share it with him. A neighbor telephones police to complain about the party, but officers are already on their way, following the bullies who are intent on defeating Kid. Meanwhile, Kid and Play realize they are both courting Sharane, and Play warns his friend that he is not wealthy enough to attract a “project girl” looking for social mobility. Just then, Sidney and Sharane challenge Kid and Play to show off their dance moves and the two girls flirt with Kid. When D.J. Bilal plays a slow song, Kid finds himself in the arms of Sharane. In a less affluent part of the black neighborhood, Pop sets out to look for his delinquent son and is detained by the policemen who were following the bullies. They release Pop, then drive to the party and thwart the bullies from burning down the house. Unaware of the events outside, Kid and Play take turns on the microphone, challenging each other to invent the best rap music rhymes. After conceding to a tie with Play, Kid agrees to walk Sidney and Sharane home. As he goes upstairs with Sharane to collect their belongings, Pop arrives, demanding to know his son’s whereabouts. When the teens remain mum, Pop leaves, and Sidney is jealous to find Sharane in Kid’s arms. Back at Sharane’s low income housing “project,” Sidney criticizes her friend for flirting with Kid and Play at the same time. As Kid waits for Sidney outside, Sharane dares her friend to seduce Kid while he escorts her home. On the way to Sidney’s upscale neighborhood, the two become better acquainted and end up in Sidney’s bed, kissing. However, Sidney stops Kid from making love to her, fearful he still prefers Sharane. When he convinces Sidney that she is the sole object of his affection, the two realize they do not have birth control and agree to postpone having sex. Just then, Sidney’s parents return home from the fraternity gala and Kid sneaks away. Back on the street, Kid is spotted by the bullies, who give chase and corner him in a discarded refrigerator. The gang’s attack is again thwarted by the police, and the youths are arrested. In jail, Kid telephones Play for help, but he and Bilal do not have enough money to cover bail. While Kid’s cellmates pull straws to determine who will rape the boy first, Play drives to the homes of Sharane and Sidney, and the friends pool their money. Back in jail, Kid performs a rap to hold off his cellmates, and is released on bail just in time. As the friends return to their respective homes, Sharane agrees to a date with Play, and Kid receives a passionate farewell kiss from Sidney. With the girls gone, Play and Bilal ply Kid for a description of his affair with Sidney. He explains they did not have sex because they were lacking contraception, and his friends ridicule him for being responsible. At home, Kid sneaks up the stairway, undresses, and climbs into bed before realizing Pop is at the door with his belt in hand. Kid is beaten by Pop for his prohibited night out. +

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Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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