"The House" is about as bad as anyone can reasonably expect it to be - and that could be a good thing. The Movie features two of the biggest stars in comedy and one of the biggest rising stars, plus an ensemble of familiar names and faces. But the premise was always a little off, and the execution from a first-time director was bound to be problematic. Still, the movie doesn't deserve the roasting it has received in reviews since it came out earlier in the week.

About the movie

"The House" is a comedy film starring Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler. The directorial debut of Andrew J. Cohen (who wrote the scripts for the "Neighbors" films), the movie was released on June 30, 2017.

Scott and Kate are just parents who want to send their child to her dream school, Bucknell. When their town takes away a previously promised scholarship offer to build a town pool, they hatch a plan with their gambling-prone friend to create a secret casino to raise funds. "The House" quickly devolves into madness, though, as the town blows off steam, Scott chops off fingers, and chaos reigns supreme for all.

'The House' always loses...

Ferrell and Poehler put up their requisite, expected performances in "The House," full of potty humor, physical gags, and cheap laughs. It's all about perspective when it comes to determining whether or not those performances are good or not. The movie won't be winning any Oscars next year, but it provides a large amount of levity while quietly pointing out the ballyhooed issue of soaring tuition rates in higher education.

The best performance, however, may have come from Jason Mantzoukas (of "The League" fame). He started out by playing the same character he has become known for in his career - zany, off-kilter, in need of some sort of psychiatric intervention. But by the end of the movie, it was clear that there was some depth behind Frank, who wasn't gambling away money - he was simply gambling.

By far, the funniest moments in "The House" came from physical gags. Poehler's character peed outside of her house at one point. Ferrell's character memorably chops off the finger of a man associated with the mob. He also shoves a teenage girl on multiple occasions (which would not be so funny outside of the context of the movie).

The 'B-plot' for the film was completely unnecessary, though.

The audience cared about whether or not the family would succeed in their plot to raise money for college. We didn't care about whether or not the small town mayor was corrupt and having an affair. It felt like an attempt to increase the length of the film to appropriate levels.

...except when 'The House' wins

And yet, there's a likable quality about the movie. Even when the producers and director try too hard to make a joke work, it comes off as genuine eagerness to impress the audience. The most grating joke of the film - the one where Ferrell's character can't think about numbers - wears the audience down until it becomes an almost endearing farce.

"The House" also did its best to play to some of its strengths. While the mission of the plot is to assist the daughter, she did not receive many spotlight moments in the movie.

They leave that to Ferrell and Poehler, for better or worse - at least the producers know where their bread is buttered.

There's also an excellent ensemble cast pushing the movie along. Nick Kroll plays the town's corrupt mayor. Jeremy Renner and Randall Park make cameos. Heck, even Lennon Parham and Andrea Barber (who you can get to know on the new show "I'm Sorry") fight each other - it's quite gory.

Final thoughts

"The House" fails to capitalize on a concept, but still creates an atmosphere where jokes can reign supreme. There's no ambition beyond the scope of the movie, as there shouldn't be. It's just a chance for audience members to enjoy a few laughs without any heavy-handed moral lessons - in other words, it's what a film could and should be in the eyes of many.

Grade: B-

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