Plot: What’s it about?
I often wonder how some comedies seem to be so adored by the majority of critics while other ones are universally panned. There are plenty that get dogged by critics and really are crud, but in the case of The House I think they missed the mark. The film was bashed by the majority of critics and currently stands at a dreadful 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. I have to wonder what they didn’t like about it. While far from a comedy classic, it still has plenty of laugh out loud moments, and even a few more subtle gags that all work. The premise is reasonably interesting, and at a relatively short 88 minutes, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I will be the first to admit that I am not a huge Will Ferrell fan. Still, he tones it down a bit here and plays off the supporting players rather well that it never feels like he’s trying to steal the show. At the end of the day, the film provides plenty of good laughs and passes the time easily. Before I get too far ahead, let’s take a look at the plot.
After their daughter loses her scholarship due to the neighborhood committee wanting a neighborhood pool instead, Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler) take matters into their own hands. While they don’t necessarily want to, they turn to their friend and neighbor, Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) for help. Frank himself is struggling a bit as his wife wants a divorce and he has something of a gambling problem. He suggests the three of them start a secret casino in his house. It will be in Frank’s basement and there will be a cover for anyone that questions this. It seems like a pretty foolproof plan, right? Well it is until the city councilor, Bob Schaeffer (Nick Kroll) and police officer Chandler (Rob Huebel) find out. I won’t spoil all the fun, but things get more than a little crazy in the film. There’s even a late surprise appearance by an actor that I won’t mention. Some might have read the name in the credits or seen it in an ad or too, but I’ll keep it under wraps. Some humor ensues when Frank suspects someone of cheating in their casino and they decide to make an example out of him. There are more than a few references to the film Casino (a personal favorite of mine).
I do hope The House finds a bigger audience at home as I think the film is one of the funnier ones I’ve seen in a while. It has many surprises and several big and small laughs as well. I appreciate that the plot moves along nicely and Ferrell and Co. never get too carried away that they become annoying. I think a big thanks is to Director Andrew Jay Cohen keeps them on a bit of a short leash. I mean that in a good way since he doesn’t let the improve antics overtake the film. Make no mistakes, things do get a bit crazy in several scenes, but it never feels like we’re watching the Will Ferrell show. It’s the kind of film you can return to from time to time and still laugh. Recommended.
Video: How’s it look?
While I do have most of the usual remarks to make here, there were still a few issues I need to mention. Overall, the transfer is nice and mostly free of issues, but a few problems keep it from a perfect score. At times, there was some blurriness and a smudge or two here and there. Honestly, it’s not something the casual viewer would even take note of, but the reviewer part of me does need to mention it. Otherwise, details are fine and colors on point. It’s set in a nice, suburban area, but many scenes are indoors in the casino, so that might give an idea of what to expect. The image is AVC encoded with a 2.39:1 ratio.
Audio: How’s it sound?
We get the usual DTS HD track here. Remember that this is a comedy, so don’t expect it to blow you away, but it’s still an involving track. It suits the film well. I mentioned that things get pretty wild in the film, and the track kicks things up when it’s time to. Vocals were fine and audio remained crisp throughout. Fans will be pleased with the results here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- The House: Playing with a Loaded Deck – Pranks, practical jokes and unpredictability. Watch Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas and a full house of all-star comedians go all in during this hilarious and highly inappropriate look backstage that you won’t be able to unsee.
- If You Build The House They Will Come – Discover how the cast and crew transformed an ordinary quiet suburban house to a full-blown underground Vegas-style casino complete with high-roller tables, a pool party and Fight Night, and how the cast went to poker school, learning to place their bets from the pros.
- Deleted/Extended/Alternate Scenes – Running at 88 minutes, the film certainly could have used a little more “padding” and I feel some of these included might have made a difference. Nevertheless, they’re here, in one form or another, for all to enjoy.
- Line-O-Ramas – This saddens me. Warner has finally succumbed to the dreaded “Line-O-Rama” feature on their discs. These are just alternate takes on lines spoken in the movie and how they differ from a gag reel is beyond me.
- Gag Reel – Shenanagins on the set!
The Bottom Line
Sadly overlooked and unfairly dogged by most critics, The House remains a funny and entertaining film, however. I laughed when I saw it in theaters, and I laughed as I watched it again at home. At a short 88 minutes, it won’t take much of your time to check it out. Ignore the critics on this one and give this flick a chance. It’s also one of Ferrell’s better recent comedies as well. Recommended.