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Review: The House

The House
06.30.2017
3 10

PLOT: In order to pay for their daughter’s university, two suburbanites (Will Ferrell & Amy Poehler) and their next-door-neighbor (Jason Mantzoukas) open an unground casino designed to make some quick cash.

REVIEW: Something horrible has happened to studio comedies, and I don’t know what’s to blame. We’ve always gotten plenty of crappy comedy programers, but at least they were made somewhat professionally. Watching THE HOUSE, which is a major studio film with A-list stars and a presumably healthy budget, I was shocked at how slapdash everything looked. The directorial debut of screenwriter Andrew J. Cohen, who wrote some of the better recent comedies of note (NEIGHBORS & NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY RISING, MIKE & DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES), the movie looks like it was shot with a bare-bones budget, with cheap looking sets, ugly cinematography, and sound effects that seem to have been wholly lifted from public domain library. When a crowd of shocked partygoers gasps, you’ve literally heard the exact same cue used since the 1980’s.


 

Being a comedy though, none of this would have mattered if THE HOUSE were funny. It’s not; in fact I’d wager it ranks as Will Ferrell’s all-time worst big-screen comedies, and one that puts him on the verge of entering Adam Sandler territory. What’s insane is the sheer amount of talent in from of the camera. Indeed, Ferrell can’t help but be at least a little funny, so the occasional line-reading or look works, but Cohen’s given him nothing to work with. Ditto Amy Poehler, who’s saved plenty of bad SNL skits but can’t do much here.

They play to type, with Ferrell the silly man-child and Poehler his explosive partner, both of whom somehow have managed a comfortably middle-class existence, even though you never really get a handle on what they do for work. The most knowing performance comes from Ryan Simpkins’s as their daughter – who’s quicker on the uptake than her folks but somehow can’t figure out what’s going on next door.


 

All the laughs are as lame as can be, with dopey fight scenes meant to be hilarious, even though you’ve seen the exact same joke done time and time again. The closest we get to a decent bit is when Ferrell and Poehler get into their roles a little too much, leading to trouble with a local gangster (one of THE AVENGERS – but I won’t spoil who for the presumably few of you out there who want to see it). Even “How Did This Get Made’s” Jason Mantzoukas is left high and dry in probably his most prominent role to date as their third wheel – what a waste of a funny guy. The same goes for Nick Kroll and the always great Alison Tolman as the city hall baddies, who want in on the action. Everyone involved just deserves so much better.

Now, many of you will no doubt think I’m being too hard on a goofy comedy, but this sets a bad precedent. No one seems to be trying at all, and the material is so thin, it’s insane to imagine how this managed to land such a good cast. Heck, even the recent KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES had a bit of proficiency to it. This is bargain basement all the way.

Source: JoBlo.com

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