Review

Don’t Bet on ‘The House’ to Make You Laugh

The_House_(2017_film)Will Ferrell really needs to stop making R-rated comedies, they’re never good.

“The House” stars Ferrell and Amy Poehler as parents who start an underground casino in order to pay for their daughter’s college tuition. Jason Mantzoukas, Ryan Simpkins and Nick Kroll also star as Andrew J. Cohen makes his directorial debut.

I was looking forward to this one ever since it was announced in early 2015. Even though he has had a losing streak lately I always try to give Will Ferrell films a chance, and writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien penned “Neighbors,” its sequel and the entertaining “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” so there was a lot here to make one opportunistic, and I would have been willing to bet on this being a success. But just like “Semi-Pro,” “Get Hard” and “Step Brothers” (don’t @ me), Ferrell again stumbles with his R-rated attempt as “The House” wastes its cast in a thinly scripted, dull and uninspired romp.

Like I said in my review of “Rough Night,” I am pretty generous to comedies. If it makes me laugh, I tend to give a film a passing grade, since a point of a comedy is to make you laugh. But “The House” doesn’t really have that many genuine moments of comedy, and the best parts of the film are in the trailer. The film is stretched so thin (it’s only 88 minutes long) that it almost doesn’t feel like a real movie, which would explain why there was only one trailer for this; had they made a second one they would have ended up showing entire film.

Some scenes last for 30 seconds simply to deliver a single punchline, while other sequences come and go without even attempting to create a laugh; or at least, no one in my audience laughed. Which is always awkward, when a film delivers a punchline then has the beat before the next line of dialogue so the audience can laugh without missing a line. But when no one laughs, the silence in the theater is only more uncomfortable.

To their credit, Ferrell and Poehler seem to be putting in at least some effort and in another project I’m sure would be a great comedic pairing. But the script doesn’t make them anything besides cookie-cutter “parents who are losing their kid to college and dread empty nest syndrome” and the supporting cast are all over-the-top characters that only exist in movies. The film’s lone bright spot is Jason Mantzoukas, who I am normally not a fan of, I think he is grating and always has the dial turned to 11 out of 10, but he is a little more tame here and has some great delivery of lines that had no right being so funny (someone asks him why he didn’t drive his car to the party and he simply goes “ha, I can’t find it.” I don’t know, I laughed).

There really isn’t much more to say about “The House.” I saw it just a few hours ago and it’s already all but gone from my mind. I can’t see this being entertaining enough for anyone to really enjoy and it is certainly a letdown given the talent on both sides of the camera. The last time Ferrell had an R-rated film in the first half of a year was “Get Hard” in 2015, and he followed it up with the not-so-great “Daddy’s Home” later than holiday season. “Daddy’s Home” is getting a sequel this November, so here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

Critics Rating: 4/10

the-house
Warner Bros. Pictures
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