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March 21, 1990 - Image 8

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-03-21

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ARTS

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The Michigan Daily

Wednesday, March 21, 1990

Page 8

Film grounded in life,"

TIME

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House Party
dir. Reginald Hudlin
by Jen Bilik
Parents go away, step in Kid and Play - to bust or
not to bust is the word of the day. House Party will
blow out woofers and tweeters from Showcase to the
Roxy - one of the loudest and one of the best movies
to be released into a neighborhood near you in a long
time. Director Reginald Hudlin takes what sounds like a
Sixteen Candles storyline and turns it into a celebration
of youth and music, funny for the most part and serious
at turns, always entertaining and never quiet.
With a crisp, colorful look and a comic book eye,
Hudlin sets his camera to the music with a story about
Kid n' Play (rappers Christopher Reid and Christopher
Martin). The plot itself is so simple that much of the
film's interest depends on the personalities of its charac-
ters and the entertainment value of the little vignettes in
which they interact. Hudlin has taken a bold step, espe-
cially in casting actors without prior experience, but the
result is a fresh look at a different world. The world in-
vites you in without ever comprimising its integrity.
Kid, famous for his Eraserhead hair sculpt, has
lived alone with his father, Pop (the late comedian
Robin Harris), since his mother died. He gets into a
fight with the school bullies, played by rap group Full
Force, because one of them calls his mother a ho. After

being sent to the principal's office, the (white) principal;
asks, "Why in God's name did you call his mother a,;
garden tool?" and sends a letter to Kid's father that re-
suIts in his being grounded during the best party of the'
year.
Play's parents have left town for the evening, so
Play decides to have a party. Reginald Hudlin explains
his motivation for making the movie as a promise he ;
made to his high school friends that someday he'd make
a film about the parties they used to have. The end
product is a nightmarish comedy of errors in which Kid
continually encounters obstacles after sneaking out o+
the house to get to the party.
The script is fast and furious, as if it were set to the
music that supports the rhythm of the entire movie.,
The camera seems like another character in the plot with
unrealistic but totally effective shots from below, as
when Kid dangles precariously from the hand of a bully.
+ Kid's endearing qualities translate into quirky facial
expressions, alternating between smug 17-year-old satis-
faction and social discomfort as he tries to sift out his,
feelings for his two love interests. Without ever losing
its sense of humor, the film addresses serious issues:
such as sex and teenage drinking, but in a subtle way so,
as not to bombard the audience with didactic messages,
house Party respects both its viewers and its characters:
with an uncondescending look at a self-contained world:
of fun and consequence.
HOUSE PARTY is playing at Showcase.

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Kid n Play (Christopher Reid and Christopher Martin) live it up at Play's house party. The film House Party is
more than a Sixteen Candies wannabe.

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Director Hudlin speaks at

'U

by Jen Bilik

ON Sunday, February 25, movie
producer Warrington Hudlin came to
the University to introduce his film
House Party in a special preview
that ended the Black Filmmakers
Series. After the movie, Hudlin
stayed to answer questions from the
audience. A tall, attractive man with
a beard, Hudlin's informal manner
kept the audience entertained as well
as informed.
Hudlin commented widely on the
economic nature of filmmaking and
urged us all to vote with our wallets
to assure the possibility of a next
film. "Hollywood doesn't operate on
a conscience, they operate on a bot-
tom line," he said. Hudlin said he
was lucky to find a production com-
pany (New Line Cinema) that al-
lowed his brother, director Reginald
Hudlin, full artistic freedom, and be-
cause of this, House Party was free
from some usual constraints. At the
same time, "One of the issues, of

that people are going to want to
know 'who are the stars?' The as-
sumption is that without stars in the
movie, people aren't going to come
see it. Now, there are very few Black
stars - there's Eddie Murphy, Eddie
Murphy, Eddie Murphy.... The case
we made to the company is that mu-
sicians, and Black recording artists in
general, have a real constituency. So
we had recording artists as stars, and
thought they would bring their own
followings to the theaters."
Although right now the Holly-
wood industry seems to understand
that Black filmmaking is economi-
cally viable, Hudlin predicts that in
five years, interest will drop, neces-
sitating economic nationalism
within the Black community for its
filmmaking. At the same time,
Hudlin hopes that the need for dis-
tinctions between "Black" films and
other films will fall away. "I'm very
jealous about the term 'Black films,'
because it's really who's behind the
camera. All the Black films to come
out of Hollywood, the person behind

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the camera is white."
A number of people in the audi-
ence were concerned with the obliga-
tion for Black filmmakers to impart'
a positive image for Blacks in their
films. Hudlin had vehement convic-
tions about the positive image con-s
cept: "Is what we need positive im-
ages, negative images, or realistic'
images of ourselves as multi-dimen-
sional? I rarely meet a person that Pi
describe as negative or positive:.
People are multi-dimensional. And I
think as filmmakers, what will be al
service to audiences, whether you do
a comedy or a drama, is if you have
multi-dimensional characters."
While the women in Ho use
Party dress in a sexually provocative
manner, and there is some gender'
tension, Hudlin said he feels the fe.
male characters aren't treated in a
sexist way. "When it coines down to
it, these women stay in control'
which is something you don't ordfi4
narily see. Their friendship was sd''
strong that the guys could not break'
See FILM, page T I

course, when you

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