Thursday, July 20, 2017

The House

★★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Will Ferrell is a comedic legend. Amy Poehler is nearing that status. And Jason Mantzoukas could be one. Put them together & you have the basis for a comedic riot.

And that's certainly what The House is: a comedic riot that is the funniest film of the year so far.

The film focuses on Scott (played by Will Ferrell) & Kate (played by Amy Poehler) Johansen, a couple in the idyllic small town of Fox Meadow. Their daughter, Alex (played by Ryan Simpkins), is on her way to college at Bucknell University as the recipient of the annual town scholarship. However, city councilman Bob Schaeffer (played by Nick Kroll) announces that he must revoke the scholarship in order to pay for a new, town superpool. Scott & Kate are absolutely devastated. Not only is their daughter's scholarship revoked, but they don't have any money whatsoever put towards college.

Enter Frank Theodorakis (played by Jason Mantzoukas), a friend of Scott & Kate, whose wife, Raina (played by Michaela Watkins) is about to divorce him due to his gambling problem. Scott, Kate, & Frank decide to go to Las Vegas to win money for Alex to go to college, but they lose their money, & accept that the house will always win.

Frank then has an amazing idea: to start their own underground casino at his house. At first, Scott & Kate are reluctant, but they warm up to it after Frank tells them that Alex will end up being a prostitute if she doesn't go to college. And so they start the casino. They get their friends in on it & it's a big success. But things start to go awry, & all hell breaks loose.

The cast is hilarious. Ferrell gives his best comedic performance since The Other Guys. Poehler gives her best comedic performance yet. And Mantzoukas gives an excellent breakout performance.

Andrew Jay Cohen's direction is solid. There are some faults that are common with a directorial debut, especially a comedy, but it still works out good.

The screenplay by Andrew Jay Cohen & Brendan O'Brien is brilliant. Having previously co-wrote the excellent comedy Neighbors, Cohen & O'Brien build off of an interesting premise into a non-stop laugh riot, filled with some amazing mean-spirited humor.

And this has the best use of the song Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3 since The Sopranos.

Is it a masterpiece? No. There are definitely a couple rough spots. But did it make me laugh a lot? It certainly did.

The House was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Sunday, July 16, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 88 minutes, & it is rated R for language throughout, sexual references, drug use, some violence & brief nudity.

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