The House review – Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler lose the bet

The exuberant comic talents of Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are largely wasted in this uninspired addition to the frat movie canon, which resembles reheated leftovers of the Hangover, albeit with a curious detour into some heavy bloodletting.

The pair star as Scott and Alex, two suburban parents who are forced to take desperate measures when their daughter’s college scholarship is yanked away from her. The answer, clearly, is to start an illegal casino in the McMansion of their gambling addict best friend (Jason Mantzoukas), earn just enough money to cover the uni fees and quietly close it down before the authorities notice. Of course, things don’t quite pan out that way, and soon their impromptu gambling den is hosting bare-knuckle boxing, coke binges and the odd torture scene.

It’s a premise with promise and Ferrell and Poehler throw themselves into proceedings with the usual relish, but they’re poorly served by a baggy script and a tendency towards genre tropes – surely Ferrell, for example, must be tiring of playing the “strait-laced soccer dad who rapidly backslides into deviancy” role he’s once again lumbered with here. Most tellingly of all, the now customary end-credits outtakes prove more amusing than the film itself. The House, it seems, doesn’t always win.

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