Jacob Richardson | 05/06/2017
An egregious blight on the cinematic landscape that signals the death of comedy.
It’s not until one tries to explain the plot of the interminable and baffling Will Ferrell comedy, The House, that one truly realises the inconceivability of its story. Following Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler) Johansen, and their about-to-start-college daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins), the movie seems unconcerned with logic. After having Alex’s scholarship revoked by town councilman Bob (Nick Kroll), the tragic parents start a local casino with best friend and recently separated Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) in Frank’s foreclosed-upon house. In their effort to earn their daughter’s tuition, they come afoul of the Council and the local mob, even while they watch their neighbourhood friends gamble, drink and fight until the early hours of the morning.
Andrew Jay Cohen, previous writer of Bad Neighbours, Bad Neighbours 2 and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, tries his hand at directing here, with devastating consequences. At a tight 84 minutes, the film barely makes feature length, and it is probably due to Cohen’s insistence on neglecting any logical offshoot of story. Plot development is dealt out to the audience with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, as evidenced by Ferrell’s incredibly corny delivery of the line “why if we were the house?”. That’s not to mention the irrevocably apparent mass of plot holes; whether it is Scott and Kate’s neverending supply of money (despite being too poor to send their child to College) that bankrolls their Casino, the ability of a town of about 5 people to spend $500k in a Casino in a month, or the utter mess that is Bob, his power and his personal failings.
But this could all be forgiven. Every little plot thread that is picked up and dropped just as quickly, every little piece of insanity; gone in the blink of an eye if the movie was funny. But it isn’t. The House plays largely to crickets in the theatre. Ferrell and Poehler hit new lows, regularly failing to raise a smile let alone a chuckle. Kroll gives it everything he’s got, but it’s not enough to save a disastrously written character, and while Mantzoukas is the films one saving grace, even he is unable to escape the shadow of the supporting cast. The supporting actors seem intent on bringing to life all the personality and realism you’d find in a stock photo. They’re cardboard cut-out characters that exist solely to serve as the butt of any of Ferrell or Poehler’s “jokes”.
Cohen eschews any potentially interesting storyline (how do they get away with running a casino? How do they set it up? How do their friends who have lost all this money react?), instead focusing so steadfastly on one specific issue you’d have to think there’s another entire film on the cutting room floor somewhere. It’s a remarkably bloody, excruciatingly unfunny example of utterly unwatchable drivel.
With The House, Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler hit new lows. Bring your phone - you’ll need something to distract you from the trauma onscreen