A high schooler with an entrepreneurial knack for staging weekend parties tries to improve his grades and win the girl in Mario Van Peebles’ messy, unconvincing “We the Party.” For all its stylistic bling — check out all those split screens! — the pic feels like a quickie knockoff between major projects, offering the writer-director’s handsome son Mandela and other younger Van Peebles loads of screentime. This South Los Angeles-set dramedy flirts with terminal stereotypes and high-school movie cliches right and left, pointing to poor theatrical and modest vid returns.
Hendrix (Mandela Van Peebles) is smart but “lazy,” according to tough-love dad Sutton (Mario Van Peebles), a teacher at a fictitious Baldwin Hills High School. Surrounded by a tight circle of pals who place a group bet on who will get laid first by prom night, Hendrix has the hots for cute, studious Cheyenne (Simone Battle), who’s making a video project on the theme of success. Driven by the need to buy a car with cash earnings from his weekend dance-party extravaganzas, but beset by drooping grades, the clever lad arranges Cheyenne’s tutoring services in exchange for a prom date.