Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas
Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
Running Time: 88 mins
The House is an American film about a middle-aged married couple who, in order to raise the funds needed for their daughter’s college education, set up an illegal casino in their friend’s basement that soon becomes a hit across town.
Stupid, preposterous and way over the top at times, The House is far from the best film you’ll ever see. However, with a surprisingly kind-hearted story, likable characters, fun performances and a great, anarchic sense of humour, it’s actually a really rather enjoyable watch, and the perfect bit of popcorn comedy to sit back and relax to.
Now, just being easy-going and silly isn’t good enough reason to call The House a good film. All in all, the film doesn’t do anything to bring its frankly ridiculous story down to earth, turning a sleepy suburban neighbourhood into a hotbed of illegal gambling and organised crime in a matter of minutes, and leaving you to just accept things and go along with it all.
But, that anarchic sense of humour and almost refreshingly careless approach to the story is actually what helps to make the film so much fun at times. Furthered by thoroughly likable leads in the form of Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, as well as a career-best turn from Jason Mantzoukas, The House takes its most moronic and preposterous ideas and runs with them all the way, waiting for you to catch up and have a laugh with it.
And in that, all your expectations for anything remotely sensible or intelligent go out the window right at the beginning. But that’s actually ideal for enjoying what is an unashamedly ridiculous comedy, rather than hanging onto the few threads of intrigue here and there expecting something slightly more impressive.
Saying that, however, as much as The House provides genuinely great fun and a good few laughs with its throwaway, anarchic comedy, it also surprises with a well-meaning, kind-hearted story core.
Average people getting involved in harebrained schemes that get way out of hand is par for the course in Hollywood comedies, but they often do so for the most stupid reasons – either being drunk out of their minds, in debt to some criminal organisation or whatever.
The House, on the other hand, tells the story of two parents doing everything to help their daughter go to university, desperately trying to rake up the funds necessary for her tuition by any means.
Amidst all the chaos and stupidity, that’s a really lovely and surprisingly heartwarming story line to follow, and while the movie certainly forgets about it and goes way overboard at times, it’s still present in the actions of its main characters, meaning that they never come across as a pair of irritating morons.
So, overall, I must say that I really quite enjoyed The House. It’s not a perfect movie, and absolutely pushes the limits way too far with its anarchic brand of humour. Still, it’s a funny watch, with great performances, likable characters and an unashamed fervour for stupidity, all bolstered by a surprisingly heartwarming emotional core. And that’s why I’m giving it a 7.2.