Despite the pairing of two talented comedic actors in Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, The House is nothing more than 88 bland minutes where all of the funny scenes are shown in the trailers.
The duo star as husband and wife, Scott and Kate, who are unable to afford their daughter’s upcoming college tuition and resort to opening a casino with the help of their down-on-his-luck, gambling addict friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas).
The film, however, has problems from the start. The college- bound daughter, Alex (Ryan Simpkins), won a scholarship from the township, just to have it yanked away from her and her parents during a public town hall session as the city councilman, Bob (Nick Kroll), decides to use the funds towards a public pool instead, an awkward moment that was just unbelievable from the start. If they didn’t have the funds for it, why wait to tell the parents until after their daughter won, and better yet, why announce it publicly?
Additionally, the film apparently has never heard of financial aid as the parents resort to trying to get raises, Kate returning to work and getting a private loan before ultimately opening the casino.
The casino, while wildly popular, becomes very dark very quickly. An underground fight club is formed one night, and on another, the Scott, Kate and Frank find a man counting cards and send a message when they accidentally cut his finger off in a scene that just feels forced.
But despite the potential to capitalize on these events, the film awkwardly stumbles through scene by scene to make comedic moments in the aftermath of these events. The fight club lasts just one night and clearly serves as the plot device that forced Bob to investigate why so many people are no longer attending town hall meetings, which in itself just isn’t a strong enough motive to investigate.
Meanwhile, the finger incident leads to people fearing and respecting the laws of the casino and especially Scott, as they are unaware that the incident was accidental.
The film is the directorial debut of Andrew Jay Cohen, who has found success as a writer for Neighbors and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Cohen is a potential rising star, but this is a step in the wrong direction, and one that could keep him out of the director’s chair in the immediate future.
While it’s made very obvious that Scott and Kate will do anything for their daughter, the film is stale from beginning and is a forgettable film on both Ferrell’s and Poehler’s resumes.