The general gist of The House is a premise I don’t actually mind, all things considered. Comedies rarely go for a grounded and realistic plot. It’s not how they work. Things need to be spiced up a bit, and that’s exactly what happens here. We focus on happily married couple Scott and Kate Johansen (Ferrell and Poehler, respectively). Their daughter, Alex (Ryan Simpkins), has made it into the college of her dreams, promised to get in through a scholarship run by city councilman Bob (Nick Kroll). But Bob can’t afford the scholarship this year, and the money promised is spent elsewhere. Alex is disappointed, and that’s something Scott and Kate can’t live with. To maintain the illusion that they know what they’re doing as parents, they decide to get the money elsewhere, and it may just be the worst decision of their lives.
Ferrell and Poehler are comedic powerhouses. They’re forces of nature, unmatched by most, so a re-teaming of their talents should’ve led to an instantly funny movie. Yet it doesn’t. The two have comedic chemistry, previously appearing together in Saturday Night Live and Blades of Glory, and they deserve a much better movie than the one they’re in. It’s idiotic, boundary-pushing humour that fails to push said boundaries and lacks the necessary raunchiness a film like this needs. It gets lost in its self-inflicted mayhem. Jokes are drawn out to tedious lengths, hoping to find something funny by stretching it out as long as possible, and surprise-surprise it never works.
It’s not just the script that sucks though; it’s almost everything else, too. Performance wise, everyone gives it their all, which always makes watching these types of comedies just that little bit extra bearable, but ultimately, the characters and the story lack enough depth to make it all worthwhile. Andrew Jay Cohen, screenwriter of both Bad Neighbours movies, makes his directorial debut with this film and you can feel it. It’s a series of wide shots and pop songs, executed in the most clichéd way possible. Having a double feature of this and Baby Driver really brings into the spotlight the simplicity and short cuts a lot of modern comedy directors take, and sadly, The House will be added to that list.
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