The House stars comedy giants, Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler; it follows two overly enthusiastic parents Scott Johansen (Ferrell) and Kate Johansen (Poehler) who adore their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins). Alex is moving to college. Unfortunately, the scholarship that was to be given to Alex has been cut from the town budget leaving Scott and Kate to find another means of funding their daughter’s college adventure. When on a trip to Las Vegas with their long time friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) yields unexpected results, Scott and Kate decide to collaborate on a scheme that may get the money to fund Alex’s college adventure with an illegal casino housed within Franks home.
The House has a stunning pedigree of comedic talent within it. A few notable examples include Nick Kroll, Rob Heubel, and Cedric Yarbrough. This, unfortunately, is both the most prevalent strength and weakness of The House. The cast when they are on fire are fantastic, Mantzoukas, in particular, is a highlight easily outshining Poehler and Ferrell. Unfortunately, a lot of the supporting cast aren’t given enough material to shine truly, and when you have this number of comedic actors in one place you expect to be laughing every few minutes, and when you’re not, it’s disappointing.
There is also an issue with the legitimacy of the story of The House. There’s no weight to the situation, no gravity; it doesn’t feel like a real problem for the parents, trying to earn this money for the daughter they love. The film feels more like an extensive collection of skits with an overarching theme and every 20 – 30 minutes the audience are reminded that this is all for a good cause, so any evil doings are completely exonerated. The biggest misstep in The House though are the leads, Poehler and Ferrell are at their least funny in this film. Scott and Kate are annoying characters, and they go through a transformation within this film that only makes them more infuriating and obnoxious. There is no saving grace for these two characters, and when your lead protagonists are the least interesting characters in your film, you know you’re off on the wrong foot.
The film is also poorly put together as scenes have been heavily edited, and at times the story structure goes all over the place especially when the film ends multiple times with each ending being less effective than the last. Worst of all is the last minute villain that does nothing to forward the plot save for giving another ridiculous joke that will once again either hit or miss.
Ultimately The House is a safe, unremarkable film with nothing offensive going on but because it doesn’t dare to be different, it falls into a pit of mediocrity from which it will likely never get out of. If you’re starved for a comedy and are looking for something familiar and you’re a diehard fan of Poehler, Ferrell, and Mantzoukas, you will find something reasonably enjoyable here.