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The House

The House

Released 30 June 2017
Director Andrew Jay Cohen

Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Ryan Simpkins, Nick Kroll, Allison Tolman, Rob Huebel, Christina Offley, Jessie Ennis

Brendan O'Brien, Andrew Jay Cohen

Andrew Jay Cohen, Joe Drake, Jessica Elbaum, Will Ferrell, Nathan Kahane, Adam McKay, Brendan O'Brien
Origin United States
Running Time 88 minutes
Genre Comedy
Rating 15A

Not worth the gamble.

Watching American comedies over the last few years has felt a little like being strapped to a roulette wheel, going round and round in circles, while becoming increasingly nauseous. Screenwriters seem to be using a random movie generator that spits out an implausible plot, some R-rated content and a couple of bankable comedy names before slapping it all together with an underwhelming script. The House is no exception to this rule; a film that loses sight of its already flimsy plot within a half hour and then attempts to compensate for its meandering by loading the film with some startlingly grisly violence.

Ferrell and Amy Poehler play straight laced couple Scott and Kate Johansen. Their daughter is due to leave for college in the autumn and the community in which the family lives has generously decided to donate the money to pay her fees...until a scoundrel Councillor, played by Nick Kroll, reneges on the offer. Left with few options, Scott and Kate agree to get on board with their gambling addicted friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), and establish an illegal casino in the neighbourhood. Soon, the casino is the hottest venue in town but the trio are under threat from both local law enforcement and local gangsters.

The script, from director Andrew Jay Cohen and co-screenwriter Brendan O'Brien is baggy to say the least. Jokes are few and far between and the characterisation, which starts and ends at “good parents go bad” is not exactly unique to this brand of comedy. Only Jason Mantzoukas manages to raise a few laughs with his high energy performance but really, as soon as the neighbourhood couples start pounding the crap out of each other, The House definitely lost me. I'm not averse to the odd burst of comedy violence but there were no jokes here, just nastiness.

The only conclusion to be drawn from the gag reel that closes the film is that the cast sure looked like they had fun making this movie; certainly more fun than I had while watching it. Maybe it's time for Poehler and Ferrell to up their standards from just wanting to have a good time to genuinely wanting to make good work.

- Linda O'Brien