THE HOUSE review

Hmph…

For those of you that don’t know, I am not the biggest Will Ferrell fan. Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone and everyone’s mother thinks he’s the Jesus of comedy, but… I disagree. Like, a lot. Very few of his films were actually funny to me, and what few I did like were either not straight comedies, or it was him that I liked the movie for. STRANGER THAN FICTION (2006), THE OTHER GUYS (2010), and GET HARD (2015), and two of those titles I liked more for his co-star than he himself. The main problem I’ve had with a majority of his movies are that they’re all the same and he only ever really plays the same character: a bumbling, socially awkward man who is foul-mouthed, but acts like a screams like a child when in trouble. The repetition is annoying as hell and while I can understand his brand of humor being popular, it’s rarely resonated with me.

But there goes my rant about him. How about this movie? Does it seem to change anything? Nope. Not in my eyes. It looks like it’s more the same, but this time, we have Amy Poehler acting the same way. This is potentially a huge shame because I rather enjoy her. Of course, she was such a comedic genius in the TV show PARKS AND REC and she was instrumental in my love for my favorite film of 2015, INSIDE OUT. This woman has range like no other. Bar none one of the funniest women I’ve watched, and can rip your heart out with her penchant for drama. Ironically, that’s how I feel like Ferrell could be, if he ever went that route, but he never does, and now he’s gotten Poehler latched to him. Damn…

In any case, I’ve ranted yet again, so let’s get to the actual movie. It looks like it’s about this married couple just found out that their beloved daughter just got into her first choice college, but they just found out that they can’t pay her way to go there. In order to make ends meet, they secretly start an underground casino with a shady friend of theirs and of course, things go wrong. It looks pretty by the numbers, and on paper it looks like it could be good, but I ain’t holding my breath.

Well, here’s the cast. Starring, we obviously have Poehler (INSIDE OUT [2015], ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED [2011], and TV show THE MIGHTY B!) and Ferrell (ZOOLANDER 2 [2016], THE LEGO MOVIE [2014], CASA DE MI PADRE [2012], and the upcoming DADDY’S HOME 2 [2017]). In support, we have Ryan Simpkins (A SINGLE MAN [2009] and REVOLUTIONARY ROAD [2008]), Jason Mantzoukas (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE [2017], DIRTY GRANDPA [2016], THE DICTATOR [2012], and the upcoming THE DISASTER ARTIST [2017]), Nick Kroll (CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS [2017], LOVING [2016], and TV show THE LEAGUE), Rob Huebel (BAYWATCH [2017], KEANU [2016], and WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2013]), and Rory Scovel (DEAN [2017] and TV show GROUND FLOOR).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing and co-writing is Andrew Jay Cohen, making his feature-length feature debut (Congrats, sir), but him and his partner-in-pen, Brendan O’Brien, are both known for writing MIKE AND DAVE NEED WEDDING DATES (2016), NEIGHBORS 2: SORORITY ROW (2016), and NEIGHBORS (2014). Co-composing the score are Andrew Feltstein and John Nau, known for THE BRONZE (2016), ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (2013), and CASA DE MI PADRE. Finally, the cinematographer is Jas Shelton, known for KEANU, JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME (2011), and CYRUS (2010).

Overall, no, I’m not looking forward to this, at all. But I’m hoping that Poehler’s energy and comedic timing will save this movie in some way for me. But… nah, I really doubt it.

This is my honest opinion of: THE HOUSE

(SUMMARY)

Johansen parents Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler) are on the precipice of saying goodbye to their teenage daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins), who is about to go to her first choice college school. Unfortunately, there’s a snag. The city council once had Alex on a scholarship that would pay her way into the school, but pulled it in favor of a community pool. Devastated, but determined to keep this ball rolling, Scott and Kate attempt to pay Alex’s way themselves, but they don’t have enough money, and after a wild time in Las Vegas with their depressed and near-divorced friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), they’re even worse off. But then Frank hatches an idea. Gambling is a ludicrous business and wants to start his own suburban neighborhood underground casino for the bored locals eager to spice up their lives, and possibly to raise enough money to send Alex to college.

(REVIEW)

Shocking! Another unfunny Ferrell movie. Not his worst, but certainly nowhere near his best.

In fact, my predictions for this movie were so on the nose that I haven’t the slightest idea what to say. There’s only so many times throughout a bad comedy that I can simply not laugh and go into details as to why the joke wasn’t funny. Sometimes something unfunny is just unfunny. Ferrell and Poehler aren’t funny. Nope, Poehler doesn’t save this movie for me. Her energy is there and I want to laugh when she’s on screen, but I can’t. In fact, she’s just as annoying as Ferrell’s character in the flick. All these two do is act like socially awkward people who don’t know how to talk like normal people, but still curse like sailors. It’s… the same role you’ve seen in every other R-rated Ferrell movie, except it’s two fold. If there’s anyone that’s even more unfunny it’s Mantzoukas. Frank is loud, obnoxious, and I’d be surprised if the word “quiet” would even register for his character. My brain felt like a it’d gone to a mental prison and got shanked multiple times by a dozen disgruntled inmates.

That’s nearly the entirety of the movie. It’s one stupid joke after another. Frank playing craps and literally wins dozens of times and the reason why wasn’t because of rigged dice, Scott chopping off the finger of a card counter and instead of doing the sensible thing of getting out of the way of the over-the-top blood squirting, he just sits there taking it into his mouth, Kate taking on the moniker of “the Burner” even though she never burns anyone until the end of the movie, and even then it’s only once, and the many opportunities that Scott and Kate could have taken the money they’ve earned off the gambling and finally pay off their daughter’s tuition for school. This movie should have been an hour long at best and this movie knew it. So to punish us further, they throw in more gimmicks and plot threads, like Scott, Kate, and Frank thinking their big shots and start treating everyone on the streets like shit to maintain a “tough” demeanor, and a mob subplot that’s resolved about as quick as it’s established.

Actually, to be fair, the mob subplot involves Jeremy Renner as the mob boss, which was admittedly hilarious, if only for the fact that Renner is reliably more funny than Ferrell. He’s arguably the best part of this movie and bar-none my favorite. But of course, when he’s gone, the movie goes back to being what it was before his appearance, much to my undying sadness.

Honestly, this is probably a good time to remind y’all that I don’t actually think this is the worst of Ferrell’s movies that I’ve seen. It’s still in the pool of schlock that I’ve come to associate with him, but I can’t deny that there are at least a few funny moments. Early on in the gambling stuff, there’s a sequence of “fight night” amateur boxing when a couple neighbors have it out for each other. The first fight is built up over the course of a couple minutes, hyping the crowd around them, and once the bell rings and they start to fight, one of them gets immediately knocked out with one punch. And there’s another fight between a pair of women who really had it out for each other and their fight is so over-the-top brutal and intense that it’s actually kind of amazing. I admit to laughing at those bits.

And also, this is probably a small reason to be happy with this movie, but I was unbelievably giddy when I saw Michaela Watkins, whom I was a fan of from the criminally short-lived TV show TROPHY WIFE. She was the hippy mom who adopted the asian boy. In this movie, she plays Frank’s wife who is trying to divorce him because he’s got a gambling addiction. I swear, all she does in this movie is show up suddenly, and then storm off out of the movie. I like to think that Watkins wasn’t acting. She was saying her lines, and angrily trying to leave the set, but her contract’s tractor beam kept catching her, pulling her in, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. Ten points to anyone who knows what I just referenced.

Overall, no. I’m getting a headache just from thinking about this damn movie. I don’t want to be a broken record, so I’ll keep this brief. Unfunny, annoying, a little bit of good stuff preventing it from being a total trainwreck, but I don’t recommend it. Ferrell and Poehler fans will obviously ignore any negativity toward the talent and see it anyway, so if this brand of humor is to your liking, then good for you. As for anyone who likes smart comedy, or comedy that’s just, you know, funny, then this ain’t for you.

My honest rating for THE HOUSE: a weak 3/5

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