Overview: When their daughter’s college scholarship vanishes, two suburbanites decide to open their own casino. Warner Bros; 2017; Rated-R; 88 mins.
It Is What It Is: The House is not trying to be anything it isn’t. It is not a movie that lives deeply in logic or realism, nor is it trying to reinvent the comedy wheel or say something about the world. It is simply an 88-minute machine for producing jokes one after another until the credits roll. The House’s premise is simple: parents need money for their kid’s college so they open their own casino. Hijinks ensue as the casino becomes more and more successful and power begins to go to everyone’s heads.
The Cast: Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler play Scott and Kate Johansen, a pair of suburbanites who are terrified of empty nest syndrome and a little bit stupid. The movie uses them effectively but towards the end can’t quite decide if it wants to fully commit to its Casino spoof with them or not.
Jason Mantzoukas, best known for his wild performances on The League and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, tones his usual madness down to play the Johansen’s down on his luck friend who concocts the casino idea. What is odd is that this movie would be the perfect foil for his more wilder characterisations but he holds back and lets Ferrell and Poehler be the ones who go nuts once they get into the casino game.
Alongside this trio, director Andrew Jay Cohen brings in some comedy ringers to keep things moving like Nick Kroll, Rob Huebel, Lennon Parham, Cedric Yarbrough, Andrea Savage, Allison Tolman, and Kyle Kinane.
Fast: This is a very, very quick movie. From the opening to the moment the casino is up and running is about fifteen minutes of screentime. The writers obviously know that we didn’t come here to watch the logistics of setting up a casino in a residential property so they basically skip over that without so much as a montage. The downside to this quickness is that towards the end it feels like the movie is running as fast as it can to the ending, introducing plot points then resolving them straight away as when towards the end, gangster show up to threaten the casino and are dealt with within five minutes. It feels as though we’re watching the movie get pitched in real time as one writer says, “We should bring in gangsters,” and then the other one says, “Nah,” but by that point the page has been typed so it might as well get filmed.
Overall: There are some very funny moments in The House, and on the whole, the movie does its job in that for an hour and a half you get some laughs through seeing funny people be funny. If anything this is the perfect movie to watch on a long haul flight as you are eating your in-flight meal and getting ready to go to sleep.
Featured Image: Warner Bros.