The House (*) Comedy is Hard

House

The House – 2017

Director  Andrew Jay Cohen
Screenplay
Brendan O’Brien, Andrew Jay Cohen
Starring Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Nick Kroll, Allison Tolman, Michaela Watkins, Jeremy Renner

Married couple Kate and Scott Johansen (Poehler and Ferrell) have to take desperate measures to pay for their kids’ college tuition paid. Just about the time we get to see Amy Poehler peeing outside the front of the house, I realized this probably isn’t the kind of career she envisioned for herself. Sure, she did Parks & Rec, which turned into one of the better comedies of the last decade. She’s also featured in a lot of comedy movies…and I’ll be damned if I can remember one of them being at all good.

Where’s Will Ferrell in all of this? He’s the guy who did Anchorman, which was a majestically cornball film which is a classic of epic proportions unless you don’t have a sense of humor. He’s also done Kicking and Screaming, Night at the Roxbury, Get Hard and Land of the Lost. That’s only a taste of the misery he’s placed upon us.

Together, these two did Blades of Glory, which was good. And Ferrell has done as many good comedies with Adam McKay as anyone since leaving SNL. Is this enough to bank a comedy on? It depends on who you have writing and directing it.

How about Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen? They wrote Neighbors, which I got through and Neighbors 2, which I did not. I didn’t even try to get through Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. These films are part of the swirl in the comedy toilet. One can only hope that Poehler settles for urinating in the yard.

There are many offensive things in The House. There are soccer mom fights, and severed fingers and many drugs being imbibed. Children are used as props for violence and kidnapping. There are several things that can’t be ignored which won’t raise an eyebrow.

“…But, we have insurance…” says one character to dismiss an all consuming fire, as an estranged couple finds romance in the flames.

Poehler and Ferrell are particularly bad. Whatever skills they have are completely and ludicrously squandered by people who don’t understand the skills they do have. The resulting fracas is a mishmash of moments that don’t work to any effect beyond shock.

The only character worth mentioning is Jason Mantzoukas’ as the desperate friend Frank Theodorakis, and he mainly work because his frazzled and wacked out ideas are driven by a situation that could conceivably lead there.

Unlike the lead couple. They’re just stupid, like this movie.

Thankfully, though, this movie cost more to make than it brought in. Maybe this will weed out some of the “talent” in this film. Like a natural selection of comedy. At this rate, we can expect stupid comedies for the rest of time.

(* out of *****)

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