The House (2017) – Andrew Jay Cohen

Releasing to blu-ray and DVD today from Warner Brothers, is the latest comedic effort from Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler.

Somewhere in this film, there is the potential for something really funny, but far too often the dialogue is pushed past the point of hilarity to absurdity, and the story itself could have played as dark comedy serving as commentary, but instead, it seemed to want to play it safe, and simple-minded.

Ferrell and Poehler are Scott and Kate Johansen, an upper-middle-class family living in small town America. Their daughter, Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is getting ready to head away to university, unfortunately, the town scholarship they were relying on has been cut, and now, they have no way to send their daughter to uni.

So thanks to a ‘bright’ idea from their troubled neighbour, Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), they decide to open a casino – right in Frank’s house and make enough money to send their little girl to the college of her dreams.

The film could have explored the concept of how ridiculous it is for post-secondary education to be so expensive – middle-class North America is becoming financially enslaved just to better themselves, and families are breaking their monetary backs to take a shot at something more – and made a really dark comedy filled with social commentary, and with names like Ferrell and Poeher behind it, it would have worked.

the-house

Instead, they chased down the absurdity of all the ‘wacky’ things that they could bet on, how it would change them as people, and what would happen when the local criminal element found out about it.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some laugh out loud moments, but more often the absurdity of the dialogue is pushed too far to be considered funny, and you can’t help but wonder if Cohen, as writer and director, was unable to reel in the performances, and improvisational nature of his three leads.

The blu-ray comes with some standard extras for WB comedies, like a gag reel, extended and alternate scenes, and the always enjoyable, line-o-ramas which lets you see how the cast improvise and play with one another. Also included are a couple of featurettes on the making of the film.

Despite the film’s star power the film comes across as a standard comedic offering, willing to play to the lowest common denominator (and sometimes that is a good thing), but I think it missed the opportunity to do something really funny, and talk about a real dilemma as well.

The House is available from Warner Brother today on blu-ray and DVD.

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