Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Ryan Simpkins, Allison Tolman, Rob Huebel, Jeremy Renner
Directed By: Andrew Jay Cohen
Plot: Parents (Ferrell/Poehler) find out they don’t have any money to send their daughter (Simpkins) to college. So, they team up with their sketchy gambling addicted best friend (Mantzoukas) to open a casino… in his house.
What Works: I thought Jason Mantzoukas was pretty consistently funny. Definitely the bright spot in the film. There was a scene, where the parents are drunk, and the kids are high, that I thought was actually really funny, and overall my favorite part of the film. Inexplicably, Jeremy Renner is in this.
What Doesn’t Work: Not that I thought the trailers were hilarious, but I was disappointed going into this. I thought the film wasn’t very funny overall. For every 10 jokes, one landed. I didn’t like Ferrell and Poehler together. I thought they lacked chemistry. Not only did they not seem like a married couple, but they didn’t even come across as best friends. They had an awkward “friend” vibe, like Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn did in Four Christmases (when they hated each other). I kept wishing this girl had gay dads so Ferrell could be with John C Reilly, or lesbian moms so Poehler could be with Fey. Even in that, the writing itself isn’t very good. Some scenes are really poorly written. There’s a scene with Nick Kroll and Allison Tolman at a restaurant that i just thought was written by a middle schooler. I wish Kroll had just improvised his own dialogue. Some of the jokes are dumb. There’s a “jerking off a giant” joke that I assumed was improv’d, but when I saw the outtakes, and realized that she was saying the line as written, I just felt so bad for the actress. Wow. There are a few moments of laughter, but they don’t come until at least halfway through the movie, and are more situationally funny than actually being written well. This film was written and directed by Andrew Jay Cohen in his feature debut. He wrote Neighbors, Neighbors 2, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me at all. It feels like it was directed by the guy who wrote all those films.
Final Word: We’ve had some comedy flops this summer, and The House is the first one I can say actually deserves to flop. I’m a huge fan of Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, and that’s why I trekked out to see this, even though my gut told me skip it. I’m now telling you skip it. Or at least wait for Redbox. This is not worth your time.
Final Grade: C-