The House; A big gamble, an even bigger loss
Las Vegas is a city built entirely from the generosity, over indulgence of losers. The opportunities to gamble in Sin City are seemingly endless. Hop off a plane at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and likely one of the first things to greet you will be a slot machine. The odds of winning are stacked considerably against the players, but there must be something about bright shiny lights that compels people to throw money away. Gambling and losing to the house is generally the only sure thing. One recently released movie takes this idea of gambling and the odds being stacked in the house’s favor and runs with it.
The House is the absurd story of two middle-aged parents Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler). Scott and Kate’s pride and joy, their 18-year-old daughter Alex, is on the verge of graduating from high school and has begun applying to schools. After falling in love with Bucknell, Alex applies and is soon after admitted, filling Alex and her parents with overwhelming happiness. However, those feelings of joy dissipate rather quickly.
After their town discontinues providing one student each year with a college scholarship, Scott and Kate realize they don’t have the funds necessary to cover Alex’s tuition. Determined to come up with the money, Scott, Kate and a friend decide to open a casino. Their illegal enterprise is soon raking in the cash, but not everyone is pleased. Scott and Kate find themselves facing down a town councilor, the police and a dangerous mobster.
As is to be expected from a comedy starring Will Ferrell, The House is paper thin when it comes to story. Instead, the film is simply a vehicle for Ferrell and Poehler to flex their comedic muscles. Now, while both are funny and talented performers, all of their antics and jokes are telegraphed from a mile away. Absolutely nothing new comedically is brought to the table. Nearly every joke, funny look or outrageous situation feels recycled from every other Ferrell or Poehler film.
The lone bright spot – if it can be referred to as one – is that the film is rather short. It’s not even 90 minutes long. In a time when most films are two hours or longer, The House keeps it short and sweet. Two hours of this would’ve been unbearable.
The House is a lazy film in nearly every aspect. The premise is weak, the story is worse and the jokes are tired and uninspired. The filmmakers and the performers both phoned this one in. When it comes to The House, everyone loses. 2 out 5.