Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
Cast: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas
Release Date: October 10, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
When Scott and Kate Johansen’s daughter gets into the college of her dreams it’s cause for celebration. That is, until Scott and Kate (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) learn that the scholarship they were counting on didn’t come through, and they’re now on the hook for tuition they can’t begin to afford.
With the help of their friend and neighbor Frank (Jason Mantzoukas)—also in need of a major payday—they decide to open an illegal casino in his suburban house, risking everything together on a Vegas-style bacchanal where money flows, inhibitions are checked at the door, and all bets are off.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
All bets are off when happy suburban couple Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Poehler) Johansen go hilariously off the rails in ‘The House’ after learning that their sweet daughter’s college tuition has been threatened. Unable to give her the bad news, Scott and Kate can’t resist when their troubled gambling addicted friend Frank (Mantzoukas) suggests a potential solution to all of their financial problems; creating an underground casino in his now empty home where they can win big, because the house always wins. But before long their peaceful suburban community begins erupting into chaos while the previously kind and generous Scott and Kate quickly find themselves falling deeper into darkness and making increasingly questionable decisions. Now they must decide whether to continue with the casino long to enough to keep the promise made to their daughter, or stop before they completely lose themselves in the process.
Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen from a screenplay he additionally co-wrote with regular writing partner Brendan O’Brien (the two previously collaborated on writing such films as ‘Neighbors’ and ‘Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates’), Cohen does a more than capable job at the helm of ‘The House’ which also marks his feature film directorial debut, guiding this fun and twisted dark comedy along with apparent ease. The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to the funny and talented folks that comprise the impressive cast including Will Ferrell (Anchorman), Amy Poehler (Sisters), Jason Mantzoukas (Bad Grandpa), Nick Kroll (Adult Beginners), Ryan Simpkins (A Single Man), Allison Tolman (The Gift), Cedric Yarbrough (TV’s Speechless) and Jeremy Renner (Avengers) along with more, nearly all providing humorous and fitting performances in each of their respective roles.
‘The House’ is a comedy that certainly has a great deal going for it; a fairly clever and original premise, the clearly perfect combo of comedic greats Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler with a barrage of other hilarious individuals making up a noteworthy supporting cast. While ‘The House’ takes advantage of plenty of these important aspects already in its favor and wholeheartedly embraces them, it also falters in its often slow pacing; really taking far more time than necessary to find itself and start offering up some truly hilarious moments, and while many of the jokes land effortlessly a few too many also tend to fall flat. It definitely delivers plenty of hilarious moments though to say the least, and the movie’s surprising tendency to allow things to occasionally escalate to true bloody mayhem really helps allow this goofy ride to become something special in many ways, while also cleverly depicting the increasing insanity as these overall good suburban folks fall further into darkness, and naturally always going entirely off the rails with the subject for good comedic measure. Director Andrew Jay Cohen does a solid job guiding the film along which also marks his feature length directorial debut, and his capable guidance is boosted tremendously by a great cast that features Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler with a notable supporting cast behind them. Albeit certainly suffering from its share of faults, I would urge anyone that enjoys the comedic antics of the key cast members or simply appreciates a fairly hilarious and demented dark comedy that tends to take things to a constant extreme as opposed to pulling any punches to make a point of giving ‘The House’ a watch when you have the chance. It should have no trouble proving itself well worth your time and likely the cost of a rental for anyone already the slightest bit interested.
Overall, ‘The House’ undeniably suffers from a slow onset, a few too many jokes that fall flat or aren’t quite handled as well as they could have been, but it also manages to offer up a fairly unique and original premise that goes to some shockingly dark (and bloody) places, not to mention the comedic splendor of Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler who play off of each other splendidly around every turn, and it all forms together into quite the hilarious and enjoyable comedy. It may be far from perfect, but I would still recommend ‘The House’ to fans of similar comedy films, in addition to any fans of the notable comedic cast. It may certainly drag on occasion and take its time to really get moving, yet it nonetheless delivers some solid laughs and a surprisingly bloody look at suburban family life gone terribly wrong which should have little issue thoroughly entertaining those such as me who can’t help but have a great time with this type of twisted, raunchy comedy.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The House’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and offers a clean, sharp and smooth presentation from start to finish, with no notable faults to be discovered along the way aside from a few moments appearing somewhat over polished and glossy. It holds up admirably even during the heavily populated and somewhat darkly lit sequences and never allows anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a pretty solid high definition video presentation from Warner Bros that’s complimented by a more than substantial bitrate that should please fans of the film and casual viewers alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack provides a crisp, clean and surprisingly active audio presentation throughout. It frequently takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send plenty of crowd chatter, nature elements and a good deal more regularly making its way throughout the various speakers when appropriate, and never causing any dialogue or other simultaneously occurring audio elements to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a fantastic 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it and contributes some extra fun to the overall viewing experience.
The Blu-ray release of ‘The House’ includes some humorous extras that fans of the film should have some serious fun with. Included on the release is a number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ (running approximately 16 minutes in length combined) from the movie, in addition to tons of ‘Extended and Alternate Scenes’ (approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes’ worth altogether). We are also treated to a couple of Behind the Scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus behind the scenes footage and more: ‘The House: Playing with a Loaded Deck’ (running approximately 13 minutes) and ‘If You Build the House They Will Come’ (14 minutes). A ‘Gag Reel’ (approximately 10 times) and a few Line-O-Ramas (9 minutes combined) are also included.