The titular shindig in "We the Party" is one put on by Hendrix Sutton (Mandela Van Peebles – there are about a half-dozen credited Van Peebles in this thing). Hendrix is an underachiever whose father is a hip teacher (director, actual father Mario Van Peebles) at his ethnically magnet school. Hendrix hangs around with a veritable who's-who of high school movie clichés – including the little Italian guy Quicktime (Moises Arias), the rich kid (Patrick Cage II), the white trash skater kid Que (Ryan Vigil) and the nebbish tech-head Obama (Makaylo Van Peebles).
It should be said that the familiarity of teen movies can be welcoming, since high school movies have their own grammar, and knowing that grammar can give you a shortcut into the characters and situations. But there's a sense of staleness in "We the Party," and desperation, too – it seems like it was made by people who think they understand teenagers because they listened to an interesting story on NPR about Twitter. The cloying clichés and attempts at hipness are even more deafening because the cartoony situations butt up against attempts at social relevancy, courtesy of director Van Peebles' noted political advocacy. Obama is in the White House, ya'll, let's talk about social issues while we make masturbation jokes and have gags about prostitutes! Yes!
After the actual party, which is supposed to be this big blow out but wouldn't make it onto the deleted scenes of the "Project X" DVD, the movie listlessly shifts focus to the "senior project" (the one about environmentalism and the power of dance), which results in a series of montages and, at one point, an all-out music video. The latter happens when Van Peebles (the teacher) suggests to the sensitive thug that he write rap lyrics to the senior project (what kind of project is this?) and the result looks like a forgotten Bone Thugs N Harmony video as directed by the team that works at the Glamour Shots at the mall. We're all for Hollywood nepotism, but Van Peebles hanging the whole movie on his attractive but not exactly talented son was a huge mistake. His line delivery is halting and stagey and he never seems involved with any of the scenes.
"We the Party" (which becomes a "Yes we can"-type mantra before the movie is over) is infuriating and exhausting, the kind of grating, cloying nonsense that thinks it's adding something profound to an inherently frivolous genre. It's amateurishly shot on video and employs an anonymously cheapo soundtrack that doesn't even let you get into the groove of the party scenes. Overlong and undernourished, "We The Party" is the kind of party you can't wait to get away from. [D]