Tag Archives: Will Ferrell

“The House”

LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I call Las Vegas my home so I tend to enjoy movies about gambling and casinos, and “The House” has plenty of good quality laughs. It’s not a shining example of a great comedy by any means, but it’s funny and creative enough to mildly recommend if you’re looking to switch your brain off for 90 minutes. I am actually surprised at how amusing this movie is.

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are Scott and Kate Johansen, a married couple whose only daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is ready to leave for college. It turns out that after some financial confusion, they have no money to send her to school. Desperate to make $50,000 as quickly as possible, their gambling addict neighbor Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) suggests they start and run an illegal underground casino because, after all, “the house always wins.” The story may not sound that hilarious on the surface; it’s when the trio starts to become consumed with their new roles as wannabe casino mobsters that the entire premise takes off.

There isn’t a river of free flowing, laugh-a-minute jokes here, but there are enough quality laughs from the gags that do land — and when they land, they land in a big way. You may not be laughing throughout, but you’ll be laughing heartily when you do. Poehler and Ferrell actually pair comedically well together, playing off each other with a casual, comfortable swagger, but it’s Mantzoukas who quickly becomes the real scene stealer. His down and out character is funny without ever passing into lazy slapstick territory, and he is remarkably capable of handling some of the film’s darker, more serious jokes.

Nick Kroll and Rob Huebel lend their usual brand of deadpan humor as the crooked town mayor and the affable police chief, and there’s an unexpected brief cameo from Jeremy Renner as a real baddie (I wish he’d had more time onscreen). If you tend to find any of these actors hilarious, then you’ll “get” the brand of comedy in this movie.

Overall the film is not as generic as you’d expect and is actually a pretty funny concept that’s well executed. The story didn’t go in the direction I expected, and there are a few genuine surprises. Will this be a comedy classic for the ages? Nah. But it’s enjoyable even if it is ultimately forgettable.

“Zoolander 2”

LOUISA:  1.5 STARS    MATT:    2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The fact that this sequel exists is more insulting than anything else: insulting to audiences everywhere because it’s not worth you wasting one second of your time on watching it. Nothing more than an endless parade of very unfunny celebrity cameos, “Zoolander 2” is a long, boring and tedious gimmick that simply doesn’t work. Why did the world even need a sequel to “Zoolander”? It’s one of the worst excuses for a ‘comedy’ ever made, and part 2 isn’t any better.

Instead of having a good script, it feels like director / star Ben Stiller just sat around a called up all of his Hollywood friends to cast them in his movie so they could pal around on the set. This movie feels as old and lame as the t-shirts that Hansel (Owen Wilson) and Derek (Stiller) wear during one of the (many) gags that don’t work. There’s no satire, no quotable lines, no humor and no redeeming qualities to this movie. Will Ferrell (Mugatu), Kristen Wiig (Alexanya), and Penelope Cruz (Valentina) are squandered, and any film that dares waste Wilson qualifies as a crime against movies in general.

Shame on the talented cast who wasted their time with this junk. And please don’t waste yours.

MATT SAYS:

I’ve watched the original “Zoolander” several times over the years in an unsuccessful attempt to understand the appeal of that movie. In my view, the original film is boring and not at all funny. Perhaps I just don’t get all of the jokes about the fashion industry. Maybe I don’t “get” Will Ferrell‘s character Mugatu. It’s possible that there are sight gags that I just miss entirely. The more likely answer, however, is that I just don’t have the same sense of humor as the legion of “Zoolander” lovers.

If you’re one of them, the true-believing passionate fans of the original “Zoolander,” then take this with a grain of salt: “Zoolander 2” is slightly funnier than its predecessor, which isn’t saying much.

There are some funny sight gags and running jokes. Some of the cameos of celebrities and fashion designers are enjoyable. And it’s great to see so much of one of my favorite cities in the world, Rome. Also, the movie didn’t bore me. Beyond that faint praise, there isn’t much to recommend here. Most of the fashion-industry jokes fall flat; the has-been vs. current storyline lacks heart and direction; the ironic, sarcastic hipster character who says ironic, sarcastic hipster things just doesn’t work on any level (I’m not laughing because your references and jokes aren’t funny, not because I didn’t get them).

If you’re a huge fan of the original movie, you may want to check this one out, but wait until you can watch it at home.