Monday, July 3, 2017

Movie Review: "The House" (2017)

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Movie"The House"
Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

After their local city council revokes their daughter's scholarship, Scott and Kate Johansen decide to open an underground casino with their friend Frank, whose house is nearing foreclosure. As they start to embrace the gaming lifestyle, things begin to spiral wildly out of control.

"The House" is the directorial debut for Andrew J Cohen. He also helped write the film with Brendan O'Brien. The two have worked together previously on other comedies such as "Neighbors," "Neighbors 2," and "Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates." This movie stars Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as Scott and Kate Johansen, two average parents who are about to put their daughter Alex, played by Ryan Simpkins, through college at Bucknell University. When the city council revokes their daughter's scholarship due to a lack of funds, Scott and Kate are desperate to get the money for her education. Their friend Frank, played by Jason Mantzoukas, who is going through a divorce, comes up with the idea of running an underground casino out of his house so he can save it from foreclosure and Scott and Kate can get the scratch they need for Alex's tuition. This may sound like a bad idea, but how else are they going to get that much money that quickly, short of becoming high-end prostitutes or heroine dealers?  The three start to make a lot of money off of their neighbor's bad habits, but they get a little too caught up in their roles and things start to get out of hand just as quickly as they began.

2017 has not been a good year for comedies. Most have completely missed the mark for us, and most of the time, each new film has been a bigger stinking dumpster fire than the last. After watching the trailer for "The House," despite its cast (most of which we like), we expected this movie join the fiery inferno along with the likes of "Baywatch," "Rough Night," "CHIPS," and "Fist Fight," just another flick in the stench-filled cloud of ash.

Luckily, this flick is not as nearly bad as we feared. Sure, the story is crap and is very formulaic, but as we've said many times on this here site, if a movie is funny enough, we can usually forgive these things. Don't get us wrong, a lot of the jokes do miss their intended marks and fizzle out before they even began. That being said, we were treated to a couple of truly big laugh-out-loud moments, as well as numerous smaller chuckles throughout its run time. What worked for us personally were the more physical comedic moment, ones that show neighbors duking it out in make-shift MMA fights and people losing body parts in the bloodiest ways possible. You wouldn't necessarily expect those things to occur in a movie about running an underground casino. 

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler lay it on a bit thick at times, and we are sad to say much of what they offer simply falls flat. We have liked them in many of their other individual projects, but this is clearly a paycheck movie for both of them until their next passion projects begin. The supporting cast really helps prop this movie up more than the two leads. Jason Mantzoukas is surprisingly funny in this film, though sometimes pathetically so in an awkward and embarrassing sort of way. There have been times in his career when we have not enjoyed his style of comedy and have found him to be grating, but he meshes well with this cast and the overall zaniness of this movie. Also, there is a cameo late in the film deliberately hidden from trailers that didn't go at all as we expected (and for the better!). Any scene with that individual really brought the house down in our particular theater. That is one of the best parts about "The House," not all of the greatest, biggest, winningest laughs are displayed in the trailer, so audiences have something to look forward to that they haven't already seen.

In the end, despite the story being a nonsensical mess and Poehler and Ferrell being a bit below par, we laughed far more at "The House" than we have during any other mainstream comedy fom 2017. Just know you really have to be a fan of crass humor and Will Ferrell's style of silliness to dig this flick in the slightest.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~18%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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