When it comes to comedy, I feel like the genre can be split into two separate categories. In one category, you have comedies starring actors who can act funny, but also deliver a performance. Actors like Christopher Walken, Will Smith, Tom Hanks, etc. In the other category, you have comedies starring comedians who are only there to tell jokes as the plot rolls by. While there’s nothing wrong with this category, the problem is that the film relies on the comedians carrying most of the humor and hope the plot is amusing enough to entertain the viewers. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. As for “The House,” it crumbles directly under the latter.
“The House” is a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler. There’s little point in naming their characters. I doubt even the two writers who wrote this remember. The two comedians play a husband and wife who are excited, but also saddened, when their daughter is accepted into college. Trouble arises at a town meeting where the two learn that the scholarship they were relying on has been discontinued in order to use the funds for a city pool.
With no scholarship, no external funds, and nowhere else to turn, the husband and wife just about lose hope, until their friend invites them out to Las Vegas. After a single night there, the three gamble all their remaining funds in a game of craps, and as anyone could’ve guessed, they lose. With all three broke, the couple’s friend comes upon an idea. When it comes to casinos, the house always wins. So why not become the house? Together, the couple turn their friend’s home into a makeshift casino, and hope that through it the couple will be able to earn the money they need to send their daughter to college.
From a brief summarization, the plot might not seem so trite. In fact, I dare say the plot centering around paying for tuition was the one feature that provided a shred of hope to me that the film would be decent. Affording college is a stressful and arduous challenge, take it from a graduate. So, a comedy about a couple trying to earn the money to send their daughter to college? On paper, it works. A shame that on film it doesn’t.
The whole movie is an hour and a half long and it got at least three chuckles out of me. Though I’m sure they were ad-libbed by the comedians. Because the jokes, that I’m certain were written by the writers, fall flatter than a pancake after it fell off the Empire State Building. They’re just plain bad, and are about as classy as a fart.
Given the plot, one would assume the bulk of the movie would center around the characters trying to keep their secret casino afloat, without their daughter or the authorities finding out, with some hijinks thrown in. No, that’s the movie I wish I were watching. Instead, after a half hour in, the characters’ casino is a success, and the plot suddenly turns into “Breaking Bad” with the mother, father, and friend turning into thugs and shaking down their neighbors
for money. Which escalates into not one, but two limb decapitations, a stabbing, and a man being set on fire. Wouldn’t getting a student loan be easier at this point?
You might be thinking that eventually some sort of ramification would arise and our characters would suffer some form of repercussion for their actions, The answer is no. Apparently, right? Spoiler alert:
“The House” takes place in some alternative universe where there’s only one cop in the whole city who can’t be bothered to arrest people who’ve obviously broken a dozen laws. And even when the characters get caught, as expected, there’s little consequence. They just lose the money and are scolded not to do it again. That’s it. Comedy or not, there must be a cause and effect. It’s like throwing a whipped cream pie into someone’s face and getting no reaction out of them. It’s not funny and is just a wasted joke.
This movie also commits the cardinal sin you never want to commit when making a movie. To anyone out there interested in the movie making business, here’s a tip. Never, and I mean never, mention a better movie/ show in your movie. Because then you’re just making the viewer wish they were watching that instead of your movie. And “The House” does it twice! Referencing “The Walking Dead” and Bill Murray’s “What About Bob?” Both fictitious mediums that are ten times more entertaining than what this film could ever hope to achieve!
I’m not going to insult the actors for this. Because they aren’t actors, they’re comedians. Their job is to say some lines and tell some jokes along the way. Even if you’re a fan of Will Ferrell or Amy Poehler, there was nothing they could’ve possibly done to save this film. It doesn’t matter how much water you shovel out of a sinking ship, it’s still going to sink. However, I will blame the failure of this movie on bad writing and directing before blaming it on the comedians. Which is funny, considering the hack who directed this film was also one of the writers.
“The House” is rated R for language, sexual references, brief nudity, drug use, some violence and brief scenes of gore. There’s no tiptoeing around it. The film is just bad from beginning to end with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It’s of no surprise that “The House” only managed to rake in $9,000,000 in its opening weekend against a $40,000,000 budget. I’ll be surprised if it even manages to earn a quarter of it back by the time it leaves theaters. The final score for this travesty of comedy is a 4 out of 10. I don’t condone illegal gambling, but playing a game of poker would be more fun, and a better use for money, than this movie.
Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.