The House Review


Van Faust-Stephenson |

The House is a movie built on a simple concept: a group of people sets up an illegal casino in their home. From here, a writer could take the plot in a variety of different ways, such as the casino getting too big and taking over a small town, criminal organizations using the casino with nobody able to call the police or else get arrested themselves, and more. The way the movie takes it though is surprisingly simple and even slightly heartwarming, two parents and their friend set up the casino in order to pay for their daughter’s college.

The movie starts off with a scene that would be unnoticed if it were gone; except setting up a joke later on, though could have easily put the setup in another scene. The movie begins with Alex Johansen (played by Ryan Simpkins) being accepted into the university her parents, Scott (played by Will Ferrell) and Kate (played by Amy Poehler), had gone to. However, the three are banking on a scholarship grant from the city, who are instead planning to use the money to build a pool. So, to get Alex to college, her parents team up with their friend, Frank Theodorakis (played by Jason Mantzoukas), to pay for the tuition themselves.

However, things aren’t as simple as running an underground casino, as the tension begins to get to our three leads, with the casino getting bigger, a cop beginning to suspect them, and the usual problems a casino brings with it; to name: cheaters. It is at this point that I should say what the movie defines as comedy: making you uncomfortable and dumb people being dumb. I bring this up because the solution they have to make sure the cheater doesn’t return is to murder him. The murder plot doesn’t work, but they end up cutting off one of his fingers which leads to the cheater spewing blood from the said finger for a good three or so minutes.

It is here that one of the most significant problems with the movie makes itself apparent: for a film that is only an hour and a half long, it drags like crazy. As I said earlier, the first scene of the film is completely pointless and the second scene would have been a better opening; hell, I remember thinking the third scene being the same way when I exited the movie, but it was so pointless that I’ve already forgotten what it was. What’s even worse is that a scene that takes a good ten or so minutes and is the majority of the third act is the same way. It feels like parts of the movie were unneeded and extended just to make sure it was over an hour long. The worst part of this is that instead of extended unfunny scenes, they could have added in scenes of the parents interacting with their daughter, who is absent for the majority of the film.

Even aside from the pacing, most of the jokes just fall flat. For example, there’s a running gag where Scott is bad with numbers, which is ignorable enough, but it comes up so often that it just gets annoying. Like this, most of the characters are one-note and that note is repeatedly used for a joke; the only development the characters get is the parents going off the deep-end into psychopaths and never coming back. It makes it hard to root for them.

Maybe the saddest thing is that the trailer actually made it look funny and interesting, though it turns out that’s because it used the movie’s single actually good moment. But that movie isn’t what we got, instead, we received an unfunny waste of what could have been a decent comedy. For the reasons listed above, and so much more, I give this “movie” a 2/10.

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