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You are invited to Ferris Bueller's House Party. Wanna come?
Sometimes it is funny to watch films implode from your couch, but other times it is just horribly painful to both your eyes and your mind. House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute is one of those rare examples of when both your eyes and your mind are pleading with you to turn the film off. This final installment to the House Party series is by far the worst, not just sequel, but film released by Hollywood. It becomes very apparent early on in this "feature" that director Chris Stokes loved Ferris Bueller's Day Off with a passion. I say this because it becomes very clear that Stokes had no trouble lifting the originality of Bueller off John Hughes' hands and choosing to create a film completely void of humor. You would think that by "stealing" themes and images from a funnier film, your own film would at least be able to generate a giggle or two. With House Party 4, Stokes proved that he does not have what it takes to direct a sequel, much less a Hollywood film. From his confusing and choppy story, the inability to make sense of his characters, and recycled old/tired cliché moments, all Stokes is doing is hitting a bigger nail into the coffin that holds the House Party films. It reminds me of that student that forgets about his project due in an hour and quickly slops together super glue, macaroni, cat hair, chewing gum, and straws and presents it as "Hannibal Crossing the Alps". It just looks horrible and you feel embarrassed for the creator.
So, where did this film first take the plunge into the realm of comic stupidity? Honestly, I do not think that most places will allow me to speak that long, so instead I would like to hit upon some of the larger topics that hit me the hardest. To begin, I still cannot shake the Ferris Beuller rip-off. It was as if director Stokes was ashamed of having to direct another sequel to House Party and decided to bring in a completely random formula (from a funnier film) and see if he could cut and paste elements from the original series into that formula. That was a huge mistake. When a director tries to do this, what eventually happens is confusion within the audience. We think that we are going in one direction, but instead we head in another one. That is exactly what you can witness in House Party 4. In one instance we have John-John trying to have the "biggest party of the decade" while also trying to score a record deal (ok, kinda reminds me of the original House Party), but then we whisk away to this random island where Uncle Charles is afraid of flying, Grandma gets drunk, and some idiotic mind-dulling moments with a supposed killer. Again, we begin somewhat strong, and end chaotic. This is the confusion in which I speak. Director Stokes did not have the ability to keep his hand on either the pulse of humor or the ability to tell a sequential story. He would rather cut corners, keep the jokes cheap, and think that the audiences are idiots than attempt to revive a stone-dead series. One would think that when a director was handed that task of filming another House Party film he would walk into it thinking that he/she would be the one to revive it or bring it back to life, instead Stokes just wanted to get paid.
I realize that I am slowly growing older as the days go quickly by, but I do believe I still keep my hand in the younger generation's culture. I listened to rap and R&B growing up, but the group "Immature" never made it to either my cassette deck or my CD player. Why? I don't think they ever quite had a following, but apparently to director Chris Stokes, it would be beneficial to cast them as leads in his new House Party film. Didn't anyone at any studio realize that this was going to be in the red rather quickly? Or how about the option to have Stokes himself play the comedic car repairman, nothing like a director with no sense of comic timing casting himself as the only source of possible humor. It was one of those few instances when I actually missed Robin Harris, and I never thought I would find myself saying that to any film. Outside of a go-nowhere band playing the lead role, I also thought that the remainder of the cast only continued to suck the life out of this film. Uncle Charles was annoying when he attempted humor. Kim Whitely was completely wasted for her scenes (both literally and figuratively) while well everyone else pretty much falls into that category.
Where did Chris Stokes spend most of the budget for this film? Not for special guest stars because while this film may have boasted some, there were definitely none present at the "unforgettable" House Party, nor the possible dream that perhaps Kid or Play would make one final appearance. House Party 4 followed no preset design, which ultimately ruined this feature from the foundation down. Can anyone explain to me why there was any need to use the "escaped murderer who happened to be a licensed taxicab driver" routine for humor? Stokes was reaching deep within the bottom of the barrel and only produced more muck instead of substance. For once I can admit to there being no redeeming value to this film. House Party 4 buried the series, and while I do hear that there may be more in the pipeline, I only hope Hollywood realizes that this series has died. Hollywood needs to let this series end, forget about the past and move forward in the future. I think a sequel to Who's the Man? would get them started in the right direction.
Grade: * out of *****
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