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House, The


Stars: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jeremy Renner, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Ryan Simpkins, Allison Tolman, Michaela Watkins, Cedric Yarbrough, Andy Buckley, Andrea Savage.

Director: Andrew Jay Cohen

If Ferrell had managed to appear even one fifth as amusing as he appears to believe he is (and, presumably, Will Ferrell p.g.a, one of the movie’s fifteen producers, would most certainly agree) then this witless comedy might have been funny.

It hardly helped either that screenwriter-turned-first time director Cohen has to take much of the blame as his and Brendan O’Brien’s script is lumpy and lacking in laughs (when Ferrell tells his daughter the best way to treat randy undergraduates when they harass her college is to kick them in the ”bollocks” that is meant, I assume, to pass as wit).

Largely witless, too, is the storyline that finds middle-class Tri-state parents Ferrell and Poehler discovering the hard way that the scholarship they had been counting on to put their daughter Simpkins through college has gone bottoms up when a crooked councilor steals the funds.

Solution? Open a secret casino in the basement of their similarly cash-strapped friend and neighbour Mantzoukas, make a success of it – they need to find the funds in a month - and then fall foul of hoodlums…

What might have just about served as a hopeful storyline for a television comedy pilot wears thin fast, jokes are far and few between (do you really fancy laughing when swimming pool owner Poehler admits that she “hates crap in pool”)?

A visit to Las Vegas showcases Wynn’s casino (but sensibly without any reference to the British Royal family) leaving Poehler to comment “This place makes you crazy”, a feeling I shared as The House ground its way sluggishly to the very welcome end credits.

(Ferrell and his family appear to enjoy watching zombie shockers when stressed...

...for my money, The Walking Dead offered more laughs than this).

Alan Frank

USA 2017. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Colour.
85 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 3, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 23 Jul 2017