Now there SHOULD be a funny movie in The House. The premise is relatively inspired: A suburban couple realizes that they need to make money, a lot of money, in a short amount of time in order to send their smarty pants daughter to college. Their BFF, a compulsive gambler whose wife has dumped him, proposes what seems like a win-win scenario: Open up a private casino one of their split-level cookie-cutter homes, just for one month. Make bank, split the cash, close down, and all is good.
Put talented, super-funny people in said movie, like Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler as the earnest, smothering, if not particularly smart parents of the college-bound daughter, and Jason Mantzoukas as their down-on-his-luck gambling friend, and you see that it has huge potential. But the movie just never takes off. It spins and spins like a roulette wheel, letting you anticipate something great happening, but the ball just never lands. OK, that was a struggle of a metaphor, but you get what I mean.
Ferrell, Poehler, and Mantzoukas are totally game. Heck, even some of the jokes are pretty funny. But why does the comedy seem so bland and stale? Is it the direction? It is the fact that maybe this was a short film that bloated into a feature (that still ended up short of 90 minutes)? A few parts did made me chuckle, includes the inadvertent finger-butchering of a party-crashing gangsters, and seeing Jeremy Renner lit on fire, but it is not enough to make sitting through The House worth it. The House always wins, except when it is a poorly-made comedy wasting a talented cast.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Gag-O-Rama improvs and gag reel are funnier than the movie. There are also deleted and alternate scenes, and a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes about the challenge and fun of building a Vegas-style casino in a suburban house.