THE HOUSE REVIEW

The House always win? Not with jokes like these.

After the town takes away their daughter’s college scholarship, a couple (Will Ferrell/Amy Poehler) start an illegal casino in their friend’s (Jason Mantzoukas) house to make back the money.

Sheesh. What is going on with comedies these days? Look, I’m not looking for groundbreaking stuff BUT a time filler with a few laughs isn’t too much to ask . . . Is it?

Apparently so.

Okay, the opening act wasn’t that bad and Ferrell and Poehler made an entertaining duo as the mollycoddling parents rehearsed a “What if” scenario with a “shady college guy” to their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins).

I don’t know how many of the one liners were improvised BUT I just wish the two comedians were allowed to break free from the weak material more.

Ferrell pretending to be “Geppetto” (Because he makes all the girls his puppets) had me in stitches. He worked well off Poehler. BUT alas, that banter couldn’t stick.

Scott’s (Ferrell) numbers anxiety and shrieking got on my nerves. Seriously, his miscalculations gags weren’t funny the first time, so why did we have umpteen of them? Thank God for Poehler’s put downs.

Jason Mantzoukas (Dirty Grandpa) stoke the show as their emotionally unhinged friend Frank. A supporting act that didn’t overstay his welcome.

The group dynamic (thankfully) worked a lot better once the couple lost their daughter’s scholarship and things did get a little more entertaining.

The casino set-up was quite fun as the gang evaded the local authority’s wandering eyes.

The House excelled with some of its more sillier moments. BUT when it didn’t work, it felt drawn out and cringe worthy.

A Casino gag in which the trio taught a “cheat” a lesson delivered the laughs and some unexpected gore as Ferrell fumbled around, looking for said cheat’s thumb after an unfortunate encounter with an axe.

Nope? Not selling it. That was the best bit.

Nick Kroll (Sausage Party) and Alison Tolman’s (Fargo) philandering council officials’ subplot was bland and uninteresting. Great actors in their own right BUT they brought nothing to the mix.

I would have been happier to see more of Frank failing to win back his wife.

The first hour did kill the time and was surprisingly watchable as the neighbourhood soon joined in on the action. At one point, there were bets being placed as neighbours participated in bare knuckle fist fights.

Yeah, it’s that sort of movie.

BUT the film soon run out of steam (and material) as the big life got to the couple’s heads. Seriously, it just wasn’t funny. Poehler and Ferrell beating people up and throwing money around was just overkill.

It spiralled downwards into one big chaotic mess in the worst way possible with repetitive comedy falls, endless swearing, unfunny gags and hammy sentiment.

Even a surprise cameo in the fiery finale couldn’t save the day. I couldn’t believe this particular Avenger had popped up in this as a mobster. It was just a shame that he wasn’t any funnier.

Despite its moments, I wouldn’t bet big with this one. Unless you really want a gamble with your time, then be my guest.

2/5

*NEW* SISTERS REVIEW *NEW*

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Two stars for . . . the two stars.

OTT, stupid and dreadfully unfunny. I can’t believe that this was the last film I saw in 2015.

Two sisters (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) decide to throw one last house party before their parents sell their family home.

I really wanted to like this. Poehler (Parks and Recreation) and Fey (30 Rock) are funny ladies. BUT what drove them to do this? The money must have been good. I don’t care how ridiculous a film gets. As long as it’s funny, I can go along with the madness. This just made me mad.

The best one liners and gags only really came from their improvisation. Fey and Poehler’s commentary while they were shopping for dresses was brilliant. BUT it was far too juvenile. It didn’t work for Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne in Bad Neighbours and it certainly hasn’t here. The kids getting back at the adults. Even though the kids are adults.

It didn’t help that the hokey story line was far too dull and cliched. Poehler playing the uptight obedient daughter who never really acted out while Fey was the hothead party girl. On paper, yes. BUT the end result? Meh. Fey’s mother/daughter issues were weak as her character was never really fleshed out enough for us to actually care.

Poehler was certainly the funniest out of the pair and managed to make a more likeable and entertaining character to Fey’s loud mouthed obnoxious one. Fey’s endless tantrums and shouting just went through me. While her put downs and insults, on the other hand, were actually not bad. Especially when Maya Randolph (Bridesmaids) entered the mix.

“That’s a snazzy belt. Yeah, congrats on your wrestling championship”.

I loved Randolph in Bridesmaids BUT if it wasn’t for all the hilarious put-downs, I would have found her character annoying as well. The whole non-alcoholic gluten free drinks and Game of Thrones marathon desperate housewife gag was just boring.

I can’t believe Dianne Wiest (Edward Scissorhands) and James Brolin were in this as the parents. Wiest actually surprised me and gave it a good ol’ go BUT Brolin was terrible. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

John Cena has really gone up in my estimations. He almost topped his cameo in Trainwreck as psycho drug dealer Pazuzu. He really doesn’t care and ain’t afraid to poke fun at himself. I wished he was in this more. He worked well with Fey and you know what? The guy is funny.

Bobby Moynihan was definitely another scene stealer as annoying school chum Alex. An incident involving a tiny bag of cocaine triggered an ongoing gag that did deliver the laughs. A ticking time bomb. Never knowing when he’ll explode. Or pop up doing something crazy. John Leguizamo has a habit of popping up with naff cameos. American Ultra, anyone? His character didn’t bring anything to the fold and was completely unnecessary. Shame.

Ike Barinholtz (Bad Neighbours) and Poehler were a great couple and really saved the day. Poehler’s awkward flirting and pick up lines were fantastic. A feeble attempt of being sexy ended up with a music box going somewhere it really shouldn’t for Barinholtz. That bit did have me in stitches.

I’m sure that this big party was supposed to be a big stand against ageing, growing up, responsibility and being overlooked BUT by the end, you just felt that maybe they bloody should. The longer the movie went on, the worst it got. The damage and mayhem was good (to begin with) BUT it just went too far. Overkill. It even resorted to lazy racial profiling with Greta Lee’s nail beautician Hae-Won.

Poehler and Fey did their best and weren’t afraid to get down and dirty. BUT it was just too immature, OTT (That’s coming from an American Pie fan) and, most importantly, just NOT funny. A disappointing dud from the divas.

2/5

INSIDE OUT REVIEW

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It’s time for me to examine this piece inside out. Get ready for Pixar to play with your emotions again!

Funny, endearing, it looks like another winner on the cards.

After young Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy (Amy Poehler), Fear (Bill Hader), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

I will confess. I am a huge Pixar fan. I love how they are always able to make films that have something for every one. Telling simple and predictable stories in such complex and wonderful ways with humour, heart and fantastic animation.

BUT that isn’t to say they’re perfect. Cars may have been watchable but it was certainly one of Pixar’s weakest entries. I still haven’t bothered to view the sequel. Unlike Toy Story and Monsters Inc.

Of course when going to the cinema, you don’t just get a Pixar movie. Oh no! You have a delightful animated short first. Their latest offering? A Hawaiian sing song volcano short called Lava.

BUT this time, it didn’t do much to get things going. This musical interlude nearly put me into a lull before Inside Out had even begun. I can’t believe I’m saying this but Lava was actually quite a drab affair.

The animation and visual design may have been beautiful BUT it was literally five to ten minutes of ukulele and two volcanoes falling in love. Awww. Nope. Funny enough, did anyone else notice that the male volcano bared a striking resemblance to Jabba the Hutt.

BUT after the hilarious Geri’s Game, the origins of Lupo the leaping lamp and hell even that Blue Umbrella with that annoyingly catchy tune; I felt Lava just didn’t quite hit those levels. Regurgitating the same predictable tripe. Not a good start. My fears rising.

BUT finally Inside Out started and . . . Not bad, not bad at all.

The opening act may have been a little slow burning but it was wonderful watching baby Riley develop over the years and most importantly her emotions. Her first emotion being Joy. Poehler (Parks and Recreation) played her with aplomb. Her enthusiasm and sheer bonkers personality really brought the character to life.

Before we know it, the other emotions are not far behind. I don’t think there was one character that didn’t steal the show at some point throughout the film. They were all perfectly cast. BUT Phyllis Smith (The American Office) certainly made a memorable impression voicing the appropriately coloured blue emotion Sadness.

What I love about Pixar is the detail that they put into every project. I won’t say too much
(If I can help it). BUT the little things. Riley’s train of thought being an actual train. The islands of personality. The memory balls. The forgetters that deal with the faded memories. The long term memory servers. Brilliant.

The mind workers. Oh the mind workers. Ever wonder why your mind will suddenly think of a jingle or a song out of nowhere? Blame these little devils. A recurring joke involving a gum commercial jingle delivered the laughs throughout.

I loved how the world of Riley’s mind and her own world tied in. The impact of her move affecting every emotion. An unfortunate sorting incident with the memory balls and Joy and Sadness are sucked into the back of Riley’s mind. Without their presence, the poor girl will not be able to express those two emotions. Cue one crazy journey.

Smith and Poehler worked well together. I loved how Joy always questioned the purpose of Sadness and did everything to make sure she didn’t ruin anything. “Why does anyone need such an emotion?” The debate has handled with the right balance. After all, this is still a kid’s film. Of course, on the positiveness of having such an emotion. In other hands, who knows?

The animation was superb. The abstract thought sequence in which the emotions were forming into all sorts of shapes and two dimensional objects was brilliantly done. The 3D was hardly a must. It certainly made things more prominent on screen but the animation was good enough anyway.

BUT for all the praise, there were still little niggles. The middle act did meander in places and although Pixar has the ability to take us on these fantastic journeys. These journeys are starting to get a little predictable. You could almost time when the bickering would begin. That moment when a character would experience a revelation. And of course, it ends oh so cornily.

I loved Richard Kind as the fluffy and affable imaginary friend Bing Bong who helped Joy and Sadness on their quest. And also . . . could anyone else believe that Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in this?!

I wish there was more of the mind stuff between other people. A scene in which Mum and Dad try to deal with a frustrated Riley was fantastic. The closing credits certainly offered an insight into all sorts of people and animals with hilarious results.

Speaking of closing moments. Words . . . . Escape me. Pixar still have the ability to reduce a man to tears. I’m not afraid to admit it. The opening of Up, the finale of Toy Story 3 and now this. These films should come with a warning. Contains mild threat and scenes that will turn you into a blubbering wreck.

It’s great to see an original take on a film. Not a rehash, remake, regurgitation or sequel. A breath of fresh air (Even if it did bear a striking resemblance to Osmosis Jones).

A fun, entertaining and charming family movie that will keep the little ‘uns and the big kids occupied over the holidays for a couple of hours. Go see it.

3.5/5

With room to change to a 4