Just when you think the summer movie season is beginning to redeem itself (thank you, Baby Driver and The Beguiled), along comes one of the truly worst movies. No, not one of the worst movies of the summer…one of the worst of all time.
The House is precisely that awful.
In what may be the most spectacular squandering of talent ever, Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler lead a talented cast in a mind-numbingly idiotic (not to mention bizarrely bloody and violent) unforgivably bad movie. Even the worst, most half-baked Saturday Night Live sketches at least demonstrate a semblance of effort. The House, though, is nothing but an abject disaster from start to finish.
Poehler and Ferrell star as Scott and Kate, proud parents of Alex (Ryan Simpkins), an amiable co-ed getting ready to head off to college in the fall. They’re counting on a scholarship that their cute little hamlet of Fox Meadow offers every year, but schmucky City Councilman Bob Schaeffer (Nick Kroll) has instead appropriated the money for a fancy new community pool.
Inexplicably (literally…it’s never explained) Scott and Kate don’t have a penny saved for their daughter’s education, and despite living in a palatial, well-appointed house (vast granite counters, double stainless steel ovens), the impending empty-nesters never once consider selling their home to move into something more reasonable. Instead, after a frivolous, ill-advised trip to Las Vegas with their loser friend Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), they decide to open an underground casino in Frank’s house.
Decent premise, sure, and in Ferrell and Poehler’s more-than-capable hands it even sounds like a can’t-miss scenario. Unfortunately, though, it quickly devolves into a can’t-hit situation, where every single joke falls flat.
With attempted humor about peeing, pot, and date rape in just the first minute alone, it’s very clear where the filmmakers were hoping to go with this, but the lazy, amateurish script by Brendan O’Brien and first-time director Andrew Jay Cohen never even gets off the ground. It’s riddled with so many lazy jokes, thin characterizations, and incoherent plot points that it’s an absolute wonder that Warner Bros. honchos didn’t burn the script upon reading.
As for the over-the-top bloody violence? It makes Monty Python’s famous Black Knight sketch seem almost tame by comparison. From the visceral MMA fights the gang hosts in Frank’s living room to the Carrie-esque levels of blood that drench Ferrell after he accidentally chops off the finger of a suspected card cheat, it’s a flurry of super-sanguine gore that feels so out of place you’ll wonder if you magically transported to a different theater for a moment.
…and then you’ll realize you’d just like to stay there, so you didn’t have to watch another second of this god-awful mess.
Most of the time I can find redeeming things that, though I don’t enjoy them, I imagine could be entertaining for other people in the audience. Heck, I even thought there were moments in crap like Baywatch and The Mummy that people would find funny or interesting.
The House is empirically awful. It’s not often I find myself aching to get up and walk out of a movie, but it happened multiple times as I watched Ferrell and Poehler stumble their way through this orgy of idiocy and stupidity.