The 400-Word Review: The House
By Sean Collier
July 4, 2017
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but Will Ferrell may be following the career trajectory of Adam Sandler.
(To those with selective memories, I do not mean that as a compliment.)
After a breakout run on “Saturday Night Live,” Adam Sandler appeared in a string of popular comedic hits, including teen and young-adult favorites such as Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison and The Waterboy. The years that followed, however, saw Sandler appear in lackluster efforts (Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds, 50 First Dates) and dabble with well-received turns in drama (Punch-Drunk Love). Ten years after his most successful run, he turned to imitations of his earlier hits (Don’t Mess with the Zohan); a few years after that, his films become outright failures (Jack and Jill, Blended) and his star faded, perhaps permanently.
After a breakout run on “Saturday Night Live,” Will Ferrell appeared in a string of popular comedic hits, including teen and young-adult favorites such as Old School, Anchorman and Elf. The years that followed, however, saw Ferrell appear in lackluster efforts (Bewitched, Kicking and Screaming, Land of the Lost) and dabble with well-received turns in drama (Everything Must Go). Ten years after his most successful run, he turned to imitations of his earlier hits (Anchorman 2); a few years after that, his films become outright failures (Daddy’s Home, The House) and his star faded, perhaps permanently.
You’ll note the presence of new release The House above, which must be called an outright failure. Despite an excellent trio of comedic talents — Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas — at its center, the limp comedy is surprisingly joyless. The trio begins operating an underground, suburban casino to pay for a college fund and a mortgage; there are predictable fish-out-of-water moments and a passionless ending.
The House reminded me of the Sandler trajectory because of a perceived lack of concern with quality on that actor’s part; to the observer, it looks like Sandler is content to make movies and hang out with his friends, quality be damned. The House feels the same way; despite a writer/director team, Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, that is responsible for a pair of funny movies (Neighbors, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates), it seems that no one involved in The House bothered to ask whether what they were doing was funny.
Let’s hope that Ferrell can right the ship. (Sandler is a lost cause.)
My Rating: 3/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark