Frances Winston reviews this latest comedy, The House, starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler
Directed by: Andrew Jay Cohen – Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll,
Will Ferrell is like Marmite. You either love him or hate him. His particular brand of schtick doesn’t appeal to everyone, which is fair enough. If you aren’t a fan of his, then this isn’t the film to convert you, as it sees him playing his oft-repeated role of bumbling everyman.
Ferrell is Scott, an average Joe, who along with his wife, Kate (Poehler), is apprehensive but excited about his daughter heading to college. Unfortunately, neither Scott nor Kate had made much proviso for their offspring’s future. Thankfully, she is a bright kid who is destined to receive a scholarship from the local community. That is, until the town council decides to rescind the scholarship in favour of building a community pool.
Desperate to raise the cash for her tuition, they agree to set up an illegal casino with their friend Frank. It quickly takes off and becomes a roaring success. But of course this raises the hackles of not just the local law enforcement, but also some rather nasty gangsters who run rival operations.
This is a pretty straightforward premise, that never strays off message too much. It’s the kind of story that’s been done before, but Ferrell and Poehler do bring a nice energy to it, and she proves a good foil for his slapstick gurning. As is always the way with a Ferrell film, there is a lot of silliness, but on the whole, it manages to avoid some of the more puerile humour that has peppered previous works.
There is a fantastic supporting cast, who are all recognisable and brilliant in their own right, and they attack their parts with gusto. In fact, at times, it feels like there are so many big personalities competing for screen-time, that you don’t know where you should be looking. Actually one of this movie’s biggest selling points is probably the ensemble.
This will amuse rather than generate belly-laughs. There are one or two laugh-out-loud moments, but they are inconsistent. And as a morality tale it doesn’t really hold up.
If you take it as what it is – a bit of silliness – it is a pleasant enough way to pass a couple of hours. It won’t become a cult-classic like Anchorman, but it will raise a smile, and sometimes that’s all you want.
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