New Line Cinema’s latest comedy THE HOUSE (2017) is raking negative reviews after hitting the big screens this weekend. Fingers are pointing at the shortcomings of the moviemakers while some are saying that the comedy genre’s landscape is going through a phase; what with THE HOUSE not being the only R-rated comedy film to flop box office this summer.
Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate’s (Amy Poehler) daughter gets into the college of her dreams. But when they learn that the scholarship that they were counting on didn’t come through, Scott and Kate, – urged by their friend and neighbour Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) – opens a casino in the basement of their suburban house to fund their daughter through four years of university and preserve their parenthood pride.
A gambling den, a crowd of middle-aged partying parents, and whole lot of bad decisions 90 minutes later and cinema-goers are left rather less than amused.
There are two things with noticeably bad combinations that seemed to stand out: the screenplay and its pace. The movie has a surplus of good punch lines waiting for the right execution. But just before the film arrives at that point, a different thought comes barging in and throws off the entire set-up. There were thoughts that needed elaboration, while some needed the opposite. There were a lot of things going on that it felt as though the film wanted to squeeze in all the elements of recent R-rated comedies that it became too unfocused.
The general idea of the film is that even young parents go above and beyond to the point of doing what is crazy to provide for their child’s education – an undermined truth in the middle class of the society worth telling. But that being exuberantly told that it tips beyond the brink of an acceptable parody.
Whether we agree to such a premise, or not, perhaps what we can give a nod on is the fact that romance, drama and horror maintain their relevant timelessness in their own right. What may be funny for some may be considerably too unimaginative for many. That, I think, is what makes this film fail.