Will Ferrell, a king of comedy in his days of SNL and the early years of his movie career. Despite some flops in the box office, Hollywood continues to select him for the new standard of comedy. And this weekend is yet another notch in his belt, as he stars alongside Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas in the film entitled the House. Robbie K back to give his thoughts on yet another movie to hit the silver screen, in attempt to save you some money and time in regards to your viewing pleasures. Here we go!
Original concept: We’ve seen plenty of casino themed movies, but they often involve breaking into steal or being mindlessly drunk and stupid. The House though decided to carry the stupid over, but approach the casino story from the point of the house. Seeing the development of the casino from the ground up was a cool idea, and it gets points for originality in these regards. All the troubles they experienced in developing it offered some nice variety in comedy as well. Stupid idea? Well yes, but hey at least they are trying to be unique.
Short run time: I can’t elaborate much on this, but the House has a short run time to minimize the amount of sitting through meticulous jokes from Will Ferrell. An added bonus is that the pace of the movie also moves, avoiding being caught too long in the repetitive repertoire of bantering and jokes. Hooray for decent editing.
Jason Mantzoukas: Not the most Oscar worthy performance, but Mantzoukas was a blessing in this movie. His character, while not the most respectable, is very funny and provides excellent comedic relief from the…comedy… Okay, he provides a fresh comedy role to Ferrell and Poehler’s style. His lines have a little more wit behind their development, and his delivery is spot on with that angle that adds some finesse to it. And how casually he delivers the lines is impressive, not putting too much behind it to come off overacting or abrasive. Perfect given the rest of this movie and again an oasis.
Lazy Writing: I guess this isn’t a surprise, but the House is another example of how lowered expectations leads to mundane writing. Much of the dialogue is curse ridden, filled with a number of expletives that are so overused it gets back into the annoying zone…again. Throw in the number of lackluster innuendos and genital humor and you only end up further drowning in boring writing. I’m not saying get rid of these gimmicks, I’m saying just use them in moderation and integrate them better.
Ridiculously stupid and mundane: I’m sure you are saying, “Robbie, did you really not expect it to be stupid from the trailers?” Of course, I wasn’t this naïve, but I had hoped the stupidity to be kept in check and a little more dynamic then what I got (see earlier comment about his Ferrell’s early work). Unfortunately, the House just continues to hedge their bets on Stupid 27 (or whatever number you like in Roulette). They continue the amp the ridiculousness into grander proportions, foregoing any logic, common sense, and eventually even fun for simplistic mind candy. And for me that got old and tiring with how much it matches to other films in this genre and how it barely stands out from all the milieu.
The Overacting: Again no shocker here, but the cast certainly should not win much out of the popular choice awards for their portrayals. Ferrell’s shouting and mindless banter were cute back in Elf and balanced in his other movies where he wasn’t the star. Not the case here. His mindless rants in this movie get old fast and his efforts to draw out every word didn’t impress more so as annoy me. And Poehler wasn’t much better. Her character had some inkling of intelligence, until the drug jokes come in and her attitude becomes crap. At this point she joins her costar in being as obnoxious and loud as possible. In regards to chemistry they go quite well together, unfortunately it is primarily in bouts of mindless babbling that get staler and staler with every iteration.
Unlikeable characters: A final component is how unlikeable much of the cast is. Despite how funny they are and how noble their intentions are, most of the House are awful on all accounts. Usually in comedies there are people who act as the moral grounds to bring the craziness back down, but outside of the daughter (who is hardly in the movie), everyone just escalates the craziness with their constant bickering, unhappiness and addictions. Throw in that they just jump to obnoxious proportions with few moral rationing and you just can’t help but hope the thing blows up in their faces. Bitter and mean? Probably, but this just further shows too much of any vice often leads to bad quality.
The House isn’t the worst thing to grace the theaters, however it certainly isn’t the best. Despite a unique concept presented in the trailers, the writers chose to travel down the mundane yellow brick road of innuendos and lame jokes we’ve heard time and time again. Throw in the overacting and exponential stupidity and you’ll see the payout for this gamble is pretty low at best. However, if you are a die-hard fan of the cast’s comedy style, by all means hit the theaters for this one and you’ll score a major laugh fest. This reviewer recommends saving streaming services though, to maximize your resources.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 3.0