Hot Take: There’s always a “take the good with the bad” element of a Will Ferrell movie. Unfortunately, for this one, it’s mostly “take the bad with more of the bad.” This one joke pony is a long shot to make you laugh and often feels like an SNL skit gone on entirely too long.
College tuition is too expensive, being a parent is hard and the government will screw you at every turn. That’s the premise given to the talented comedic cast of The House who is then asked to ad lib their way through a shoddy script and then shown off in the least flattering way possible thanks to some haphazard edited and seemingly directionless and absurdly violent (Violent? Yes, violent!) summer comedy. Despite an 88 minute run time, the movie feels overlong and, at the same time, you feel shortchanged with the lack of laughs you get back for your time invested.
The plot is simple. Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) love their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) and want to send her to Bucknell University. When the town takes away her scholarship in favor of building a new pool (actually, 5 pools and a food court), their friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) suggests they open an underground casino. They do. Ummm, that’s about it? I mean other stuff happens but that’s essentially it.
Writer Andrew Jay Cohen makes his directorial début with The House. Previously, he wrote Neighbors, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and the writing style is very similar with The House. However, as director, Cohen brings a noticeably amateurish quality to the film which feels as if it were edited randomly with the precision of a drunken butcher. Unfortunately, this makes for a resulting product that is light on laughs and filled with frequent scenes of ad libbing by Ferrell and Poehler who do their best to make us laugh with what little they have to work with. Neither seem all that enthralled with their roles and the main characters appear like zombies walking through the scripted bits. If it weren’t for the energy of Mantzoukas, this film would have no pulse at all.
There are a few laughs in The House. Unfortunately, there are also few laughs in The House. It looks like 2017 is destined to be another disappointing summer for comedy as The House joins Baywatch and Rough Night as comedic disappointments and even the best comedy of the summer — Snatched — was mediocre at best. The next best bet for best summer of the comedy is August 18th with The Hitman’s Bodyguard but if you bet on The House to win, the old adage does not apply here because, in this case, The House did not.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- It’s Short
Even though it doesn’t feel like, at least you’ve only wasted 88 minutes of your day on this disappointing flick.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Bad Editing
The scenes feel poorly put together and often leave you with the impression that a more tightly edited cut of the film might improve the overall quality of the flick. It still wouldn’t be good… just better.