Movie review: ‘The House’ OK despite Box Office fizzle
–It’s been a long, tough summer for the Box Office. A number of big tent poles or movies that looked like money makers have fallen flat. Others, like “The House,” have even failed to offer a good return on modest projections. Mid-week, “The House” projected to a little over $22 million opening weekend.
Instead, during the July 4 holiday, Americans looked elsewhere. The film made just $9.1 million opening weekend, landing in sixth place. Despite a cast led by Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, audiences seemed to shrug at “The House.”
Critics, meanwhile, assailed the film. It boasts just a 20 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been added to the list of films that flopped this summer. But is it really deserved? I don’t think so.
The film centers on parents Scott (Ferrell) and Kate Johansson (Poehler), whose daughter was recently accepted to college. Though she wins the scholarship from the town, assuaging her parent’s financial fears, that hope is quickly dashed. The lead councilman Bob (Nick Kroll) quickly states the town doesn’t have the money and the scholarship fund is now defunct.
The problem is, Scott and Kate can’t really afford the tuition, either. So they are in a bind when their friend, Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), offers a unique suggestion. He’s going through marital woes as a result of his gambling and on the verge of losing his house. So he suggests they open an underground casino to solve all their money woes.
Initially skeptical, Scott and Kate come around to Frank’s way of thinking and they get their friends involved as players at their new criminal enterprise. But can they make the money they need before they get caught?
It’s a simple premise and a film that boasts a strong cast. In addition to Ferrell, Poehler, Kroll and Mantzoukas, the film includes Allison Tolman, Rob Huebel, and Michaela Watkins, among others. It’s a talented group that gives their all to the production.
The film was written by Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen, the team behind “The Neighbors” and “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” And Cohen serves as director. The pair have worked on successful comedy stories before, and this one has some elements that would seem to make it an ideal summer comedy.
Critics largely panned it as stale. And that’s a somewhat fair point. Though it clocks in at 88-minutes, the film drags at times. And the characters aren’t that well defined. Many of the best moments are featured in the trailer, and there’s some ridiculous storylines that don’t quite work.
But this is far from a terrible movie. It might be a mildly disappointing or unmemorable movie, but it’s not a terrible movie. Still, in this summer, if we’ve learned anything its that quality and originality matter to audiences. This film has all the pieces to be successful, but it doesn’t quite put them together in the right way. It’s OK, but that’s not good enough.
While I don’t believe the film deserves a 20 percent, it’s not a must-see, either. There’s other films that are more worth your time at the Box Office this summer. Plus, you’ll probably be seeing “The House” on cable for years to come.
“The House” has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for language throughout, sexual references, drug use, some violence and brief nudity. Enter with caution.
Two stars out of four.