I remember when R-rated comedies were special, when movies like Wedding Crashers arrived on the scene and proved that they could make money. Now, it feels a bit tired. It’s all shock and awe and mostly the genre of “adults behaving badly.” So can Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler make The House stand out from the pack?
Poehler and Ferrell star as two parents, whose little girl (Ryan Simpkins) is about to go off to college. They were relying on a scholarship from the city, but a jerk councilman named Bob (Nick Kroll) pulls the rug out from under them and they now don’t have enough to pay. They team up with their gambling addict friend (Jason Mantzoukas) and they open up a casino in a neighborhood home, swindling all the local residents out of their money. They must avoid a nosy police officer (Rob Huebel) as they try to raise enough to send their daughter to the school of her choice.
This movie is fine, it’s about as average as you can get.
What I mean by that, is that you’ll laugh a decent amount, there’s some clever writing, and the actors (mostly) give it their all. Will Ferrell starts as his typical aloof father character but manages to flex some comedy muscles as the movie goes on, as he becomes a terrifying figure called the Butcher. Poehler doesn’t seem as engaged and phones it in a little.
The standout here is their friend and mastermind of this whole plan, played by Jason Mantzoukas, mostly known for his role as the perfume-creator Dennis Feinstein on Parks and Recreation. He absolutely kills it, holding his own against these other comedy powerhouses.
The problem here is that the movie is average. It is just the most recent R-rated comedy that has come and gone and you’ll forget about. Hey, do you remember Get Hard? Unfinished Business? The Internship? These movies were fine but forgettable and that’s where The House will fall. I don’t regret seeing it but there is nothing about this movie that elevates it above the average.
One of the weakest links is the daughter in the movie, whose direction was likely “be apathetic” but whose performance seems just boring and uninspired. As a young actress, to get placed next to Ferrell and Poehler, you should take advantage of every moment you have with the greats. Instead, actress Ryan Simpkins feels bored and tired and offers nothing to this movie.
The movie features a fun cameo in the climax but ultimately does very little with the A-list talent that they recruited for this small role.
Here’s the thing. You might just want a fun night at the movies. A nice cold soda and a few laughs. This movie will do that for you. But if you’re tight on cash or maybe you’re looking for something that will be really funny, this movie isn’t it. This movie is average. You’ll forget it as soon as you step out of the theater but I don’t think you’ll regret your decision to see it. Absolutely average.