Boosted by KYLE’s personality and infectious music with plenty of rapper cameos and a light comedic tone evolving into decent party hijinx, but admittedly lazily acted with a played-out rap plot and self-confused genre-switching. 5/10.
Plot Synopsis: When an aspiring rapper goes viral for all the wrong reasons, he thinks his career is over. But when his best friend gets them into a wild New York City after party, he gets one more chance to make the impossible happen.
*Possible Spoilers Ahead*
Review: I’ll pitch you a film: up-and-coming rapper/entertainer is living a terrible life trying to make it big. Something strange happens one night giving him/her their big break, and what: they end up becoming big! A plot that has already been done the exact same way a hundred times in music films alone, including rap biopics, I was expecting more out of Netflix’s latest conquest The After Party. Maybe I’m just expecting too much and suckered by their advertising department’s skilled work drawing eyes in.
Boosted by KYLE’s likeable personality and infectious music with, thankfully, some actually good lyrics and respect for what the genre always intended itself to be (R.hythm A.nd P.oetry – don’t let Pac and Biggie see how much it’s devolved into.. Lil Pump and 6ix9ine. Please), the film’s lead man is fine. Refreshing self-awareness and authenticity/acceptance of the fact that he’s a broke and loser rapper (what made me like his music when I unexpectedly came across KYLE for the first time as a feature back on G-Eazy’s B-Sides mixtape a late night in college) plus plenty of rapper cameos from Wiz to Desiigner to DJ Khaled and a light comedic tone at least evolving into some decent party hijix at least supply some fun. But there is just so much to dislike.
The acting is admittedly lazy, despite a surprisingly decent performance by KYLE out of his element that’s better than most rappers’ forays into this industry, with even Shelley Hennig, who proved she had the chops back in her show-stealing debut in Unfriended (and is absolutely stunning), seemingly taking it easy here and sinking to the production value. Worse, the plot is predictable and and played-out by now in these music films; I wish they had changed it up a little like there was a tease of at the end appearing like he might not make it, and that there were way more party scenes and craziness after it’s Project X/Hangover-like marketing.
Finally, the film is self-confused about which genre it’s trying to be, bouncing around from being a camp-filled buddy comedy (where I think they definitely should’ve stayed as that would’ve been something new in music films and what we do see in it is good), coming-of-age film, hangover/rager, AND romance film.. all in an hour and some change.
Overall, The After Party is decently fun and KYLE deserves the extra exposure he’s going to get from this with in his music and surprising acting aptitude, but it could’ve been so much more with a more-focused and decisive narrative and direction.
Official CLC Score: 5/10