The comedy movie. It’s a tough nut to crack. Hell, it’s probably easier to scare the audience than it is to make them laugh, and even that is no easy feat. And of course there have been countless comedies that have failed miserably in this way. But never – at least not that I can recall – have I ever seen one that is as groundbreakingly-unfunny as Will Ferrell’s latest, The House.
When husband and wife Scott (Ferrell) and Kate Johansen (Amy Poehler) learn from a city council meeting that their daughter’s scholarship will no longer be funded, with the money instead being used to build a local swimming pool, they decide to take matters into their own hands. With the help of their deadbeat divorced friend Frank (a wasted Jason Mantzoukas) they set up an illegal underground casino, drawing in their fellow neighbours as patrons. But when the power starts going to their heads and with nosy cop Chandler and councilman Bob becoming increasingly suspicious, naturally things start getting out of control.
Both the script and dialogue here play out like they were written by the most anti-creative and humourless four-year-old. Scott and Kate are utter imbeciles, who explore no other avenue of paying for their daughter’s scholarship before opting for an illegal operation with Frank. But if encouraging their gambling friends to engage in vicious catfights to generate more bets isn’t enough, the troublesome trio begin chopping off fingers with axes (this actually happens and for no real reason) and throwing their weight around the neighbourhood in a bid to earn a fearsome reputation in the most embarrassing ways possible.
The fact that all of the above is the opposite to funny isn’t the real problem here though, it’s that no one on Earth – unless they’ve been lobotomised – would behave like these guys do. Perhaps that’s what happened to the filmmakers, or perhaps too much creative control is given to comedy actors nowadays, with the directors likely relying on the actors’ “ad-libbing” to get by; an irritant that has plagued the comedy scene for some years now. When it works, it works. When it doesn’t, it’s far more painful than, say, having your forearm chopped off before being set ablaze or being knifed in the gut. Not funny? Exactly. Sound painful, though? You’d think so – but not in this movie.
In recent years, the comedy movie has become inexcusably lazy. The actors no longer seem to be reading from solid scripts. Instead they’re literally blurting out whatever nonsense pops into their heads. Or maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve lost my sense of humour. But one thing’s for sure – this film, an alleged comedy, simply doesn’t have one. But its failure to make you laugh or evoke any other emotion is monumental and rightfully earns it the title of “The Worst Film of 2017 So Far.” So I guess you could say that The House does win after all.
Don’t forget to check out my blog Curious Rookie to find out what I got up to on my round-the-world trip including all the trips to the cinema! Feel free to comment below each post and don’t forget to do the same here on The Swindonian.