Littered with enjoyable hip-hop references and an overlong second act, The After Party is the typical run-of-the-mill Netflix film.
I never thought I’d experience a movie that slots in as many cutesy references as Ready Player One, but Netflix’s The After Party is a game of hip-hop nods and winks. I admit when Wiz Khalifa shows up smoking a joint I was ready for the film ahead, but if you have no interest in the hip-hop industry whatsoever, then The After Party may pass you by due to its overindulgence.
The premise does have promise; Owen (as Kyle Harvey), or stage name “O” is an aspiring rapper with a chance to make it to the upper echelons of rap. His best friend (and also his agent) Jeff (Harrison Holzer) is a hip-hop enthusiast and truly believes Owen is one of the best lyricists around. During his most prominent chance to get signed, Owen, unfortunately, intakes too much of Wiz Khalifa’s weed, and whilst rapping he throws up all over the famed rapper. The After Party presents the strength of social media, with his unfortunate downfall going viral for the whole world to see.
Unfortunately, after the throwing up, the movie does little to keep your interest. I was ready to experience a story that involves Owen trying to win the trust of the industry again, but the rest of the movie toys with Jeff desperately trying to find elaborate ways to get Owen signed, despite the aspiring rapper stating that his career is dead, spurring him on to join the marines. The After Party in a miserable fashion allows the character to subject himself to defeatism, which is not aspiring at all. Owen spends most of his screen time trying to have sex with his best friend’s sister Alicia.
And like the common trend with Netflix movies, The After Party mirrors an identical pattern to Ibiza, with a promising first act, followed by a drivelling overlong second act and a final act that squeezes in the important moments to close the character’s story. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the cameos of The After Party, I could not appreciate the middle of the movie that forgets the story and douses itself in a cool setting rather than focusing on the objective.
As you can tell by the title, there is an after party at some point, but the Netflix movie spends a long time getting there, giving the audience the experience of a French Montana concert, whilst Jeff frantically runs around backstage looking for Rahmel from Atlantic records. Jeff is as much the lead character as his friend – Owen does very little in a story that revolves around him. Owen represents a person who just gives up tragically, and focuses on short-term objectives that are not important.
You can appreciate Charlamagne Tha God introducing acts on stage. You can laugh when you see DJ Khaled be DJ Khaled, but you realise very quickly that The After Party is just an excuse to get in as many cameos as possible to appease Netflix’s market. It’s not a story at all. The After Party is hip-hop showing off, telling the audience what life they could have if you are an aspiring (or not aspiring) rapper.