The film was written and directed by Reginald Hudlin, based on his Harvard University film school thesis. House Party debuted at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won two awards in the Dramatic category: the Filmmakers Trophy and the Excellence in Cinematography Award.
While in their high school cafeteria, Play (Christopher "Play" Martin) announces to his friends Kid (Christopher "Kid" Reid) and Bilal (Martin Lawrence) that he'll be having a party at his house that night, as his parents Ishmel and Tajahi are out of town. The reluctant Bilal is to be the DJ. When Kid comes home, he tries to convince his father, "Pop" (Robin Harris) to let him go to the party. At first Kid's father relents, but soon grounds Kid when a note from Kid's school informs him of the fight he was in. Rather than miss the party of the year, Kid sneaks out while his sleeping father is watching Dolemite - not realizing that his father woke up just as he closed the door. On his way to the party, Kid runs into Stab and his brothers, and ducks into a 25-year high school class reunion nearby to get away from them. Crashing the reunion, Kid has the DJ (George Clinton) scratch and mix a few of his old doo wop records so that he can liven the party with a rap, until Stab and the others turn up again. When trying to get away from Stab again, he winds up knocking an older man down before attempting to make a run for it. However, Kid and the bullies are caught by the neighborhood police, who humiliate the four teenagers in front of the reunion party attendies before letting them go. After that, he jumps over a fence to get away, ending up looking in a window where a fat man is having rough sex with a hooker, and when he is discovered, Kid runs away, and the three punks are shot at.
When Kid finally makes it to the house party, he finds it in full swing, with Sidney and Sharane also in attendance. After some music and dancing, Kid and Play first get into a dance contest with Sidney and Sharane, and later have a quick freestyle battle. Stab and his friends attempt to break up the party, but are arrested a second time by the policemen, who take delight in the prospect of beating them up.
Kid's father eventually makes his way to the party, demanding to know where Kid is. When he doesn't spot Kid - Kid is upstairs helping Sharane get her coat - Pop vows to wait for the boy at home. Although Kid and Sidney each have an eye for each other, Sharane decides to openly flirt with Kid, much to Sidney's disgust. The three of them soon leave the party, but when Kid tries to make advances on Sharane, she rebuffs him. Kid then walks Sidney back home, and after some argument the two of them finally calm down and make conversation.
Sidney allows Kid to sneak into her house, and the two are about to have sex in Sidney's room when she stops him, wanting to know if she is simply his second choice. Kid manages to convince Sidney that she was his first choice all along, but they don't do anything when they see that the only condom Kid has is too old to be used. When Sidney's parents come home - now revealed as one of the couples at the high school reunion, including the man Kid ran into - Sidney hastily helps Kid sneak out of the house. He manages to get out of yet another scrape with Stab and his brothers, and they all end up in a Jail Cell,where Kid entertain the rest of the men in the Cell by rapping, mainly because some of the men were same-sex interested. Lucky enough, Play, Sharrane, Bilal, and Sydney had some cash to bail him out. However, Kid is caught by Pop as he's getting undressed, who slaps his rear with a belt as punishment for sneaking out.