“The House,” unfortunately, is another example of a film having comedic talent, but not the material to back it up.
The film revolves around the lives of two middle class, small town parents, Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler). The movie picks up in the summer just after their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) graduates from high school and prepares to go to a seemingly large, expensive college.
At first, this seems to be fine as Alex has been selected for a major scholarship. However, this is soon flipped as the city revokes the scholarship for a different use. As a result, the two parents become desperate to find another way to pay for tuition. At that moment, their friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) comes up with an idea for an ‘at home’ casino where they can make money and give the small town some thrills.
The concept featured in “The House” isn’t the worst, but it becomes apparent fairly quickly that it’s not meant for a full length feature. The whole thing wears thin relatively quickly, and as a result the movie feels like two hours when its runtime is only an hour and 30 minutes.
Digging a bit deeper into the concept, there are two basic points of humor that the movie continuously goes back to, the first being ‘how crazy would it be to stuff an entire casino into a house’ and the other being ‘watch how crazy these average, middle class people get in this scenario.’ Maybe something like this could work for a short sketch, but the movie just keeps hammering these two continuously to the point where it feels old by the time the second act starts.
Another issue is the movie became too absurd and outrageous without any solid, clever satire to really make it all come together. It boils down to this, instead of having any good, memorable lines that a person could quote, “The House” opts to go for crazy, and frankly lazy, visual antics, such as the main characters beating people who owe money to the sound of a Snoop Dogg song.
Plus, the movie has a point where it seems to reach its logical conclusion, but keeps going for another 15 minutes or so. The movie hits its climax, but doesn’t end, and at that point I really just wanted to leave.
The performers don’t save this project, either. Ferrell and Poehler have both starred in some very funny stuff and have good comedic timing, but the material they’re given here is so dry. As previously stated, one of the big jokes featured here is middle class people acting wild and letting loose, that’s really all Ferrell and Poehler are given to do here.
Mantzoukas, meanwhile, is supposed to play the real oddball of the lead three, but his character is completely unlikable and has no redeeming qualities.
For comedies, it always comes back to how many laughs it can create for an audience. “The House” doesn’t have many to offer, it’s simply not funny. 1 out of 5.