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'The House' Is the Worst Comedy of 2017 So Far

There may be worse to come but 'The House' is the worst comedy of the year for now.

By Sean PatrickPublished 7 years ago 4 min read

Oh, how I hate The House! This one note joke of a comedy about morons trying to send their daughter to an upscale college is an embarrassing and sad mess. Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler star in The House as a married couple about to empty their nest when they send their daughter off to Bucknell University. However, when they lose out on their daughter’s scholarship due to a scheme by a corrupt city council member (Nick Kroll) they are forced into criminal behavior to make their daughter’s college dream come true.

Ferrell and Poehler play Scott and Kate, a married couple with the believability and romantic chemistry of a brother and sister. With no options to send their daughter to college they decide to take up their friend Frank’s advice and join him in running an illegal casino out of his mini suburban mansion. Playing off the cliché that the house always wins they set out to steal the money of their neighborhood friends who are so eager to break the monotony of suburbia that they don’t mind losing loads of money to do it.

The House is an insufferable exercise in cliché and unbridled, excessive and hammy improvisation. The film plays as if someone heard the phrase ‘The House Always Wins,’ pitched the concept of a suburban casino that operates like the ugly side of the Las Vegas strip and just stopped there. The pitch was then paired with Ferrell and Poehler who were then tasked with inventing characters around this simpleminded idea.

This isn’t a completely terrible idea as both Ferrell and Poehler have improv experience, as does pretty much everyone else in the movie aside from a slumming cameo by real-life actor Jeremy Renner. Unfortunately, without a strong handed director at the helm to bring the story and improv characters into focus, The House quickly becomes an unbearable series of ‘yes and’ gags that were likely much funnier on set than they are in a final form on screen.

The problem is none of these people on screen become real characters, they are, like the pitch, just ideas of characters in search of the next set up and gag. While the movie futzes about trying to find the next joke we’re forced to suffer through the endless set ups that either don’t pan out or fail in awesomely unfunny ways as in the gag where Ferrell accidentally cuts off the finger of a man caught cheating. The scene is an unfocused mess of bad ideas that goes on for an interminable length before coming to a tremendously unfunny ending.

This scene is emblematic of the miserable state of the comedy of The House. Without an adult in the room to bring the kids together and tell them to stop fooling around, we get the uncaged id of Will Ferrell catering his worst, hammy instincts. A lack of a strong director is what has hampered Will Ferrell throughout his career. Movies such as Blades of Glory, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers and Semi-Pro are all good ideas with big laugh potential that fail because everyone was too busy laughing at Ferrell on set they forgot to make sure they were making the audience in theaters laugh as well.

Jokes fly by in The House without proper setup or execution. Character traits are assigned seemingly at random and then are played too well past the point when said trait might be funny. A good example, Ferrell’s Scott has a fear of numbers. Just thinking of math turns Scott to a quivery mass. This might be a funny gag with a setup but since we don’t know Scott or how it’s possible to be a 49-year-old father about to send his daughter to college despite a crippling fear of numbers the joke quickly becomes tedious. The joke is also quite random as it plays like an improv riff that Ferrell got stuck with rather than a gag they planned to use as a runner through the movie.

There is not one single redeeming quality to The House, not even the brilliant Jason Mantzoukas can bring life to this mess. I hated every single second of The House and I mean from the very beginning. The horrible opening credits sequence features the ultimate soundtrack cliché My House by Flo-Rida over the opening credits, get it because the movie is called The House the song on the soundtrack is My House by Flo-Rida, get it? Did you get it? The joke is also racial as well because 40 something white people don’t listen to hip hop! Right? White people and hip hop? That’s hilarious, right?

I honestly can’t decide if I hate The House more or less than Transformers: The Last Knight. That’s how torturous The House is, I can’t decide if I would rather watch Michael Bay try to destroy my eyes and ears with his moronic robot toys or suffer the shapeless, foolish, unfunny antics of people I genuinely like and respect in just about everything else they do. It should not be a contest but that’s how bad The House is.

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About the Creator

Sean Patrick

Hello, my name is Sean Patrick He/Him, and I am a film critic and podcast host for the I Hate Critics Movie Review Podcast I am a voting member of the Critics Choice Association, the group behind the annual Critics Choice Awards.

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