Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Amy Poehler – Kate Johansen
Will Ferrell – Scott Johansen
Allison Tolman – Dawn Mayweather
Jason Mantzoukas – Frank Theodorakis
Michaela Watkins – Raina Theodorakis
Nick Kroll – Bob Schaeffer
Ryan Simpkins – Alex Johansen
Cedric Yarbrough – Reggie
Jeremy Renner – Tommy
Lennon Parham – Martha
Andrea Savage – Laura
Andy Buckley – Craig
I have to say, when I first saw The House advertised I rolled my eyes.
Will Ferrell in a ‘comedy’ about a couple starting up an illegal casino in their family home basement. This was bound to be cringeworthy rubbish from start to finish.
This movie was fucking hilarious. A level of hilarious (during particular scenes) I simply wasn’t expecting. Yet again Hollywood cooks up a rare gem. A script so ridiculously dry in humour that even I howled with laughter at the simplest of lines spoken. And it takes something special to make me howl (gentlemen take note).
From the pen of both Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen comes perfect one-liners so observant that they are instantly funny. The main quirk of The House is it doesn’t try too hard to be funny like many other movies; the lead cast deliver words of honesty with perfect comedic timing. The jokes aren’t forced. Words are spoken with deadly serious facial expressions making the situation even more funny. And the golden egg – the supporting cast get in on the action. One of my favourite elements in the movies.
When a movie involves the backing cast heavily it can be a real good thing (Bad Moms, 99 Homes, Bridesmaids, Trainwreck, The Imposter, I Give It a Year, Office Christmas Party..) it takes the spotlight off the A-listers and exposes the ‘unknowns’ by having these complete strangers fulfil a script with just as much radiance as those leading names. This happens in The House with the likes of Lennon Parham and Andrea Savage shining such effective characters that it makes a refreshing watch to see the mother from across the road beat the shit out of another mother, or one of the neighbourhood fathers get in on the sneaky Johansen’s action.
The first courtroom scene is a perfect example; Martha (Parham) raising her hand to comment on something the town’s mayor just announced, and then Laura (Savage) chipping in to bitch at the woman for what she’s just said. Having two unfamiliar actresses partake in a face-off argument with two very familiar names (Poehl, Ferrell) trapped in the middle was interesting. For once, it wasn’t Mr. Ferrell calling the shots on comedy time, but these two ‘randoms’.
Excellent use of casting during The House. If only more movies did this to unveil fresh talent, rather than batching a group of very famous names together (a-hem, This Is the End, Pixels, Horrible Bosses, Valentine’s Day, Ocean’s Eleven, The Holiday, Contagion, Red, The Social Network, The Avengers, New Year’s Eve, Love Actually, We’re The Millers, The Expendables, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rat Race, Maybe Baby, Trainspotting…) and giving us all what (or who) we’ve seen before.
I was very surprised by the style of comedy this movie contained. One-liner’s spoken with such vague pauses that it came across as though the character – indeed the actor – had no idea if what they were saying was funny or not (example: the “goodbye” and casino commencement scenes featuring Poehl and Ferrell). I liked this. Seriously dry humour in everyday situations, and they absolutely nailed it.
The House was one of those movies which stirs an enjoyable atmosphere in the cinema auditorium and has a good 70% of the audience laughing heartily out loud throughout.
So what factors of the movie would make you want the house lights up ASAP?
What was bad about it?..
Ok, let’s get serious.
With many movies come good and bad elements. The House is no exception and I have to be completely honest by saying that the plot itself is just awful. Bordering on pathetic, and clearly conceived by a total waster. The writers may have done well, but the producers did bad. Harsh but fair.
A couple whose daughter wants to go off to university but needs funding, set up an illegal casino in the basement of their home. It’s no Golden Globe is it. Tacky stuff for sure. And alongside this are scenes which are just awful..
Almost as though the producers ran out of ideas just over a quarter of the way through filming, one or two scenes feel empty. A handful of adults wandering around a games room talking crap, as though literally filling time with improvisation. And one of the ending scenes which sees the ‘bad guys’ bust Kate and Scott’s casino is not very well played out and lowers the stature of the enemy instantly.
So although I appreciated some of the humour, the rest of the movie’s structure seemed frail with minimal effort put into its scenes. The House is one to watch – have a chuckle at – then let go. It’s certainly not worthy of a second watch. Burn after watching.
The House is like green tea; it’s just awful. But in its own special way it does some good for you. As much as it’s tacky it’s funny, so it’s half and half. Crap but funny.
Poehl takes the reins firmly by supplying some excellent puffy-faced comic moments which outweigh Ferrell’s massively. The leading lady and her gang of unknown saviours keep this movie from being a total dud which is good. And as mentioned above, it is the sheer energy of the backing cast plus honest humour that are the driving force of this movie.
Give this a pop with no expectations and you’re in for a treat. Go in with high expectations and you’ll be sorely disappointed.