Will Ferrell. Amy Poehler. Jason Mantzoukas. Nick Kroll. Rob Huebel. Cedric Yarbrough. Allison Tolman. Michaela Watkins. Jessie Ennis. Lennon Parham. Steve Zissis. Andy Buckley. You may not recognize all of the names, but you’ll probably recognize their faces. The House is full of comic actors, but not a lot of comedy.
Ferrell and Poehler play Scott and Kate Johansen. Their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) has just gotten into college when they learn that the town scholarship they’d depended on had been cut from the budget. Their friend Frank (Mantzoukas) is also in need of money, having gambled all of his away, and now he’s in danger of losing his house and even greater danger of losing his wife (Watkins). A last-ditch trip to Las Vegas doesn’t pan out for them, but it does give them the idea to open their own illegal casino and have the odds working in their favor. It’s immediately popular, but of course, it’s not going to go off without a hitch.
I’m guessing that they spent the vast majority of their budget on trying to stuff the movie with as many familiar faces as possible in an attempt to distract you from its weaknesses. And when I say weaknesses, I mean everything but the cast. It’s got one tiny plot point that starts out thin and never gets developed. It has absolutely no logic, and yet so very many logic holes. There’s no creativity. It doesn’t take any risks and doesn’t put in any effort, so it has absolutely nothing to offer the audience. I suppose that the film’s complete apathy might actually work in its favor because even though it never elevates itself above mediocrity, it also never makes you care enough to hate it or have any other kind of strong emotion.
If I had to come up with something nice to say about it, I suppose that I might point out that Will Ferrell occasionally reminded me of Henry Silva. Then I can think about all the good movies that Henry Silva has been in, and I can realize that he’s still alive and hope he stays that way for a long time.