Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: "The House" bets big and loses all its money

The House Review
There is nothing I hate more than writing a bad review of a movie full of people I like, full of people that I find funny. I especially hate writing a review of something that I thought looked funny. You always hear stories of parents doing anything for their kids. Parents willing to go several extra steps just to see their children happy. I have known several parents who pride themselves on making their happiness secondary to their kids, and it always puts a big smile on my face. Never ceasing to remind me of the unconditional love that hides in the surfaces of the Earth.

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play Scott and Kate Johansen, a loving family to their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins). Alex is heading off to college and she got accepted into the school of dreams. She will need a scholarship, she is going to need some kind of extra money to get in, and the Johansen's are happy to help with it. The problem is that due to one piece of bad luck over another, the Johansen's do not have the money to support the tuition bill, and the scholarship they relied on fell through. Feeling distraught, the Johansen's go out gambling with their best friend Frank (Jason Mantzouskas) and they decide to open a backdoor casino to make enough money to send Alex to college.

Now that's a concept rich with potential for laughter. You normally can't go wrong with the typical good people doing bad things situation when it comes to comedy. With a cast featuring Ferell, Poehler, Mantzouskas, Allison Tollman, Nick Kroll, Rob Huebel, and Jeremy Renner, you'd expect this would be one of the highlights of the year. I will say I did laugh here and there. All of the laughs in the movie are thanks to Mantzouskas, who easily steals the show. But other than that, "The House" is a letdown.

I was really disappointing that Ferrel and Poehler, who I can always count on to get me giggling in a theater, didn't make me laugh once. Why did the screenwriter not give any of them a decent line, a silly situation, a weird voice at bare minimum? These are our two of the funniest people of their generation, but more than that they are the two leads in a freaking comedy movie. Give them some material to work with. If you can't laugh at the two leads in a comedy movie, that screams red flag in my mind. 

My major gripe with "The House" is that they never try to make the concept very funny. When I think of people put in an extraordinary situation, I think of "The Hangover," that's about a group of friends that just wants to show their buddy a good time in Las Vegas before he is married forever. There are very bad decisions made throughout, but it takes a crazy concept, embraces the crazy and the results are maddeningly funny. A family deciding to turn to a life of crime in order to get their child to college is a crazy concept, so take the rails off of it. Its a little sad that I can guess from the opening moments that the family is going to get caught, learn a nice life lesson, then their child will get to college anyway, through some legitimate means. Would it be okay to really move outside the box on this?

Hollywood has been phoning it in and playing it safe for a while now, and the results end up watching a comedy with very funny people in it, then sitting in the theater bored. This has got to stop.

FINAL GRADE: D+

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