Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Jason Mantzoukas (in what is essentially a co-lead role) topline The House, which also features basically 50 percent of all your favorite sitcom actors: Nick Kroll, Allison Tolman, Rob Huebel, both leads from Playing House, Cedric Yarbrough from Speechless, Michaela Watkins, Steve Zissis (Togetherness), Sam Richardson (Veep), Andrea Savage, Randall Park, and even Jeremy Renner, in what is a glorified cameo.
How could a movie with a cast this funny be so impossibly terrible?
I don’t know, but it really is. It’s basically a bad Katie Dippold movie (Ghostbusters, The Heat) that gradually morphs into a bad David Wain movie. It contains an semi-amusing high-concept premise — two suburban parents (Ferrell and Poehler) decide to open a casino with their best friend (Mantzoukas) in an effort to pay for the daughter’s college tuition — but it completely fritters it away. It starts out as a small casino, becomes increasingly elaborate, and by the end of the movie, the whole setup is completely untethered from reality as Poehler and Ferrell turn into comedic versions of The Goodfellas, the mob gets involved, and the whole thing culminates in a showdown with a crooked city councilor (Kroll).
That description actually makes it sound better than it is. Trust me, it’s not. I mean, it’s not a movie without the occasional laugh (there is a hilarious fight between Lennon Parham and Andrea Savage, for instance), but it largely feels improvised by actors who have been held hostage. You’d think with the freedom of an R-rating and Mantzoukas, Ferrell and Poehler riffing for an hour-and-a-half in a home-made casino that The House could not fail. But it does. Badly. It’s a one-joke movie that runs on entirely too long and still manages to go nowhere. It is genuinely one of the worst films of 2017, all the more a shame because it could have been a huge break-out film for Mantzoukas.