There are dozens of films about high school escapades at house parties, but the blueprint for them all is arguably the 1990 film House Party. Starring the hip hop duo Kid ‘n Play, the film was an audacious romp through the trials and triumphs of adolescence—strict parents, young love, fearsome bullies, valuable friendships, and of course, house parties. The film, which was inducted last year into the National Film Registry, was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful breakout hit for its writer and director, Reginald Hudlin and became a watershed moment in Hollywood for not only Black film, but the Black teen movie.
The film also helped to launch the acting careers of Kid (Christopher Reid) ‘n Play (Christopher Martin), the pair whose earnest friendship forms the beating heart of the film. While Kid ‘n Play later appeared in other films, created their own Marvel comic book, and even launched a Saturday morning cartoon, they always returned to the House Party franchise, going on to star in three sequels. Now, ahead of a new reboot of the same name produced by LeBron James’ Springhill Company and releasing in theaters on Friday, TIME caught up with Kid ‘n Play to talk about their iconic franchise and their role in the new film.
Below, Kid ‘n Play look back on making House Party, decades of friendships, and the key elements for a truly great house party.
TIME: The original House Party made its debut over 30 years ago. What does it feel like to have seen the success of the original, a number of sequels, and now a remake?
Chris “Kid” Reid: It’s pretty amazing. We didn’t have that in mind when we did our thing years ago, but it’s exciting to see it come full circle and move on to a new galaxy of new fans. It’s great to be a part of a franchise like that.
Chris “Play” Martin: It’s humbling. To get a little deep, this morning I decided to take a walk and reflected on the aspirations and dreams and desires, Kid and I had well over 30 years ago. And then fast forward to today.
A good house party always has a good guest list and the House Party movies have always had great cameos like George Clinton. For this reboot, you two actually appear as cameos of yourselves—did it feel special to return in this way?
Kid: I think Kid ‘n Play is so linked with House Party that I think they thought we belonged in it in some kind of capacity, so it was cool to kind of pass the baton to them that way. Let’s see what they do with it and see what their take is.
Play: I looked at it as a reason to just have some fun and not take myself too seriously. perfectly happy to do that. We’re pretty much synonymous with House Party and not just the movie, but all parties. The other day, my daughter went to a New Year’s Eve party in New York and the club flyers had us on them.
For each of you, what makes a good house party?
Play: Great DJ, great guest list, and good food maybe—depends on where you have the party. And nothing wrong with having a good looking crowd. But the music’s got to be bangin’ though.
Kid: Hold up—you didn’t have no food at your house party! Your party was bereft of snacks.
Play: [Laughs] Yeah, well, that wasn’t in the budget. We were high school—when you’re in high school, you got no money!
Kid: I would agree—you gotta have good music and just good vibes. You always want to have a party that’s so great that the knuckleheads want to get in, but can’t get in. You have to have good people and keep the haters out.
This remake of House Party is a little darker than the original film you both starred in. The problems are definitely more grown than the ones that high schoolers are facing; for example, Kevin is throwing a party to make rent and pay for his daughter’s school tuition. How do you feel about these changes?
Play: We’re dealing with a different era. Your life might be on the line, whereas our bullies were harmless. Reggie [Reginald Hudlin, the writer and director of the 1990 House Party] was brilliant, especially at introducing what we went through with the cops and police situations in the ‘90s and how it still plays kind of prophetically today, unfortunately. I hope it’s successful for all the right reasons, but at the same time, accurately dealing with what takes place today, if that makes any sense.
Play: I agree with that—it’s not 30 years ago. The people that put this together, they faced different kind of challenges.
The original house party was selected by the National Film Registry last year. Why do you think the film and its legacy has been so beloved by so many people?
Play: For me, Kid and I are so blessed and fortunate to be a part of something that so many people can relate to and desire to come back. I’ve never been on social media as much as I have over the last couple of days and just seeing people reminiscing and talking about watching those movies. I’m so proud to be a part of something like this. Never thought in a million years we would be a part of this, along with a lot of other stuff in our careers.
Kid: We are celebrating the fact that we will always be associated with a fine piece of cinematic art and if people choose to stick with it, they can keep enjoying it in whatever form or fashion that is. That’s great.
Why do you think this film is something people relate to and return to after three decades?
Kid: The movie had a heart to it. You got high school, you got friends, you got doing some clandestine stuff behind your parents’ back. You also got the threat of danger, you got police brutality or the inference of that—I think, unfortunately, a lot of those elements are still in play today, although maybe in more extreme forms.
Play: Our relationship also relates to so many friendships. We’re almost the poster boys for friendships because we literally grew up together as best friends living around the corner from each other in real life, for years. We didn’t have to convince anybody we’re friends because it was there from the jump and I think that resonates with people.
Kid: Reggie [Hudlin], being the brilliant writer he is, baked that into the film. That’s a major component of what it is. “Kid ‘n Play” has almost become synonymous with a strong friendship or a bond.
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