'The After Party' Review: Good Music Undone By Bad Comedy

Starring: Kyle Harvey, Harrison Holzer, Shelley Hennig, Teyana Taylor, Jamie Choi, Jordan Rock, Amin Joseph, Andy Buckley, Blair Underwood
Director: Ian Edelman
Screenplay: Ian Edelman
Producers: Russell Simmons, Jake Stein, Jamie Patricof, Heather Parry, Trevor Engelson, Doug Banker, Lee 'Q' O'Denat
Music by: Raphael Saadiq
Cinematographer: Damián Acevedo, Dagmar Weaver-Madsen 
Editor: Carole Kravetz Aykanian
Production Company: Def Pictures, Live Nation Productions, WorldStarHipHop, Hunting Lane Films
Distributed by: Netflix
Genre: Comedy
Rated: TV-MA - Not Suitable for Children Under 17, Mature Themes, Excessive Coarse Language, Nudity, Sexual Content, Drug Use
Release Date: August 24 2018
Run Time: 89 minute

It has been a busy few weeks and there is a lot that I could write about. On a personal front, I could talk about some of the fun family adventures that we had this past summer or talk about how I am learning that I am often more anxious than my kids about obstacle put in front of them. There are some significant events like the closing of cultural landmark The Village Voice or all the daily chaos erupting in the political news that are worth a few words. This year I could and should have posted reviews for Black Panther, A Quiet Place or Crazy Rich Asians. Yet here I am devoting words and time to one of the latest Netflix original movies in The After Party (a very unfunny and annoying attempt at a comedy picture).


Because I've promised a hundred times plus a hundred that I would start writing several movie reviews a week, and now happens to be the perfect time to start coming through. Sadly The After Party happens to be the latest movie that I've seen.

For a movie about an aspiring rapper trying to realize his dream of landing a big recording contract, this lacks a significant amount of cheer, inspiration and optimism instead replacing it with dourness, cynicism and negativity. It also sprains itself trying to be edgy and cool by littering the movie with swearing, bare-breasts and meanness. What it forgets is jokes, a compelling story and believable characters that could be enhanced by those "edgy" elements (elements that I should add have been in almost every R-Rated comedy ever).

Kyle Harvey (real life rapper with the stage name KYLE) plays Owen who is a rapper that has been struggling for three years to get discovered and land a record contract. He then gets his big break at a show that is attended by rap star Wiz Khlifa, but he can't handle the weed that was offered, so he vomits on the rapper and several audience members before going into a seizure. This is played for comedy, but it sort of makes me want to stay away from pot.

This turns him into an online mockery known as 'Seizure Boy' and none of the record companies want to be associated with him. His persistent manager and best friend, Jeff (played by Harrison Holzer) is able to arrange for him to attend a VIP after party for a big rap show, where he will have the chance to impress one major record executive.

The story ends up being the pair running around to different typical raunchy standby locations like strip clubs and seedy backstages while meeting unlikeable and generic characters who teach our leads supposed life lessons. Of course, just to make sure we know they are borrowing much of the plot of comedies of the 1980s and 1990s, we have a Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure situation where Owen must land the contract tonight or he is being shipped off to the army the next day (just like poor Ted with his school project). This is a pure going through the motions picture where everything from the stripper with a heart of gold or the psycho boyfriend have been done over and over before.

Harvey has a big screen charisma and you believe him as a rapping prodigy and he has a few catchy songs. Unfortunately, his friend fails as comic relief and instead is a nagging irritation with his derogatory comments towards women and his constant whining to get his way. There is also a romance that flops between Owen and Alicia (played by Shelley Hennig) because there is no believable chemistry, which is largely due to the fact the movie can't decide if Owen wants a real intimate relationship or is just looking to get laid (so, he jumps between both stances throughout the movie).

The movie does have a few really catchy rap songs and the music is by far the strongest part. It also has special appearances by big stars like Dinah Jane, DJ Khaled, Jadakiss, DMX, and Young M.A. Unfortunately, the movie fails to really immerse you into the rap world or make the journey to get a record contract feel authentic. You don't learn anything new about the music industry but rather just a generic one night party movie that uses rap as flavouring. This has nothing to say except lots of curses and posturing about sex.

Kyle Harvey shows a real star presence and proves he can definitely rap, but this time he has failed at choosing a strong script to showcase his real talents.