The House (2017)

  • Time: 88 min
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
  • Cast: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas


A dad convinces his friends to start an illegal casino in his basement after he and his wife spend their daughter’s college fund.

2 reviews

  • Scott and Kate Johansen (played by Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) are proud parents who find out that their daughter is going to Bucknell University. The only problem is that said daughter’s scholarship fell through and the Johansen family doesn’t have any money to begin with. Their solution is to open up an illegal casino at a nearby neighbor’s house. This will help pay for tuition because hey, Bucknell costs about forty-eight thousand a year (I looked it up just to be sure).

    That’s the gist of The House, my latest review. It hastily stars Will Ferrell, the Dow Jones of comedic actors. His flicks fluctuate between good, fair, and awful. “House”, with its badly marketed summer release, its pasted together feel, and its wonted R rating, barely steers clear of that “awful” category.

    Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures and featuring slow-motion clips accompanied by rap music, The House is truly the be-all-end-all of manufactured comedies. At a running time of eighty-eight minutes, it only has enough material for maybe a half hour skit. A lot of “House” is filler. The screenwriters do everything to get a laugh but they forget that a full-length story actually matters.

    Anyway, characters in The House are ones that don’t act like real-life people. They are overly idiotic, over the top stupid, and over the top in their stupid funny antics. They exist in their own world, a world detached from forgone reality. With “House” being on intrigue autopilot most of the way, Poehler and Ferrell take center stage in this stupidity. They relentlessly strut their stuff and basically play themselves. Amy and Will act a fool, act goofy, and lack a reasonable moral center. Their Scott and Kate should probably be committed as opposed to being let loose in society.

    All in all, The House does have a few moments that will make you chuckle. However, it’s a hard movie for me to recommend and an even harder one for an audience member to appreciate. In “House” (ha ha), Ferrell (nicknamed “The Butcher”) gets fake blood unceasingly squirted at his face, Jeremy Renner is featured in an all-too-brief cameo as a mobster (and he gets burned to death, ouch), and co-star Ryan Simpkins appears like a deadpan of early Taylor Swift. There’s also unnecessary outtakes at the end credits (come on, not again), a couple of brutal scenes involving underground fighting, and lots of improvisation by the troupers with script supervision optional. Bottom line: There’s that old saying, “the house always wins”. Well, the movie The House doesn’t quite break even. Rating: 2 stars.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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  • Sometimes films are thought-provoking in ways unintended by its makers. Take, for example, The House, the alleged comedy starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler and directed by Andrew Jay Cohen, making his feature film debut after co-scripting Neighbours and its sequel. Watching it, one wonders how 88 minutes could pass like a snail crawling in molasses, how so many skilled comic performers can elicit not one laugh between them, and how anyone convinced Jeremy Renner to drop in for a cameo.

    It’s not as if The House doesn’t have a premise full of potential. Ferrell and Poehler play Scott and Kate Johansen, happily married couple and loving parents to daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins). The three are so close that when Alex is accepted into Bucknell University, Scott and Kate wonder, half in jest, “What is it going to be like with just us?” From that line alone, Cohen and co-screenwriter Brendan O’Brien could have crafted a comedy centering on the couple getting to know each other all over again after having spent nearly two decades clinging to their only child. Alas, no. When the couple learn that the city council providing the scholarship have decided to use the funds to build a town pool, they’re reluctantly convinced by their best friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) to start a casino in his basement. They can’t lose, Frank proclaims – after all, doesn’t the house always win?

    “Just apologise to yourself for making a bad decision,” Nick Kroll’s smarmy councilman says at one point, and his words could extend not only to everyone involved in this film but for audience members who may or may not have been aware of what they were getting themselves into. There really is nothing in The House that warrants its existence. Watching the sweet couple embrace the enjoyment they derive from being shady operators should provide some modicum of subversive thrill, but it is beyond pedestrian. Scott is soon nicknamed “The Butcher” after he accidentally chops off a customer’s finger, Kate syncs up as his lady Soprano, their friends and neighbours all unleash their inner wild animals. Ho hum.

    There’s not much more to say about The House except avoid it all costs. It’s hard to even have sympathy for Ferrell and Poehler since both of them look as if they’re merely going through the motions.

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