The House – Film Review
Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
Writers: Brendan O’Brien, Andrew Jay Cohen
Stars: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Ryan Simpkins
When the film begins the apparently comfortably off Scott (Will Ferrell) and Kate (Amy Poehler) Johansen are up to high dough worrying about the exam results of their only daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins). They are frantic she gets the necessary grades so that she can go to the college of her dreams. The right results arrive via the internet which makes Will and Kate behave like a couple of demented hyenas high on some illicit substance. The mood changes somewhat rapidly when the public scholarship, which Will and Kate were relying on Alex obtaining, fails to materialise as the funds have been diverted to build a new public swimming pool! It now transpires that although Will and Kate are living a smart, expensive life they are borrowed up to the hilt. They cannot afford to send Alex to college. Then an unlikely “fairy godmother” appears in the form of the next door neighbour whose marriage is breaking up because of his gambling addiction. He has a brilliant money making idea of converting his house into a covert and private casino. He needs Will and Kate to help him run it. All their respective financial problems will be solved by running THE HOUSE. The rest of the movie is what transpires in this unlikely enterprise.
The direction and pace of the entire is at full speed. Everything that takes place is done in a frantic manner. The first example of this is Will and Kate’s hyena like behaviour when Alex gets her results. In the casino, the lowest common denominator rules. It is worth remembering the bizarre contradiction at the centre of the plot that all this shallow, base glitz and Trump like glamour is being facilitated in order to pay fees for higher education. A succession of clichéd scenes take place one more fantastical than the other. Therefore a great deal is unmemorable with the exception of the photographing of two dice, magnified substantially, as they twist, in slow motion, in the air, fall onto the games table and finally come to rest. There was a sense of expectation and excitement as the winning numbers came to be revealed.
This is Andrew Jay Cohen’s debut performance as a film feature director. He has previously collaborated with his co-screen writer Brendan O’Brien to make the Seth Rogen/ Zac Efron vehicle “Neighbors”. It is not obvious from The House that he has made the necessary transition to the big screen. The House is frothy entertainment which disappears from the mind as soon as it is viewed. In its favour it lasts only an hour and 28 minutes.