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THE HOUSE 

click to enlarge RISKY BUSINESS Two financially strapped parents (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) start a secret casino in a friend's basement to pay for their daughter’s college tuition in The House. - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS. PICTURES
  • RISKY BUSINESS Two financially strapped parents (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) start a secret casino in a friend's basement to pay for their daughter’s college tuition in The House.

What's it rated? R

What's it worth? Rental

Where's it showing? Downtown Centre, Stadium 10, Bay, Park, Galaxy

Written and directed by Andrew Jay Cohen) along with co-writer Brendan O'Brien (both worked together on Neighbors, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) comes the slapstick comedy The House, starring Amy Poehler and Will Ferrell.

Is this the funniest movie these two comedy heavyweights have ever starred in? Nope. That being said, is this movie a better use of your time than the other dumb summer blockbusters? Yup!

Here's the breakdown: Suburban parents Kate (Poehler) and Scott (Ferrell) are jazzed when their daughter, Alex (Ryan Simpkins), wins a scholarship from the town to attend the ultra-fancy and expensive Bucknell University. But at the last minute the town, headed by City Councilman Bob (Nick Kroll) reneges on the promise, opting to build a pool instead.

The couple is also dealing with their friend Frank's (Jason Mantzoukas) life crisis as he spirals after his wife leaves him because of his gambling and porn addictions. So naturally Kate and Scott decide to go into business with Frank to run an illegal underground casino in his house to pay for Alex's college tuition. Hijinks ensue as the neighbors, bored with dreary suburban life, start to gamble away their money, get crazy drunk, and you know engage in some MMA style throw-downs. I mean this movie is from the guys who brought you Neighbors. The logic of the real world doesn't apply here and they lean heavy on the physical comedy, with one character's fingers getting cut off, another getting lit on fire, and two ladies going at it in the ring until they're both spewing blood. Oh and there's like zero consequences to anyone's crazy's antics in the long term, but that's par for the course with this kind of zany comedy.

The predictable hiccups arise, like the local government finding out about this little illegal gambling operation and trying to shut it down, but if you've seen one crazy comedy then you can likely guess how things pan out for Kate, Scott, and Alex. Poehler and Ferrell are an interesting combo, but she's realistic as a parent/normal human in a way that her co-star isn't so it kind of works out. Mantzoukas, as a man on the edge with nothing left to lose as he tries to win back his wife and keep the bank from foreclosing on the house, is a wonderfully complex character in a town filled with flatter personalities. Cal State Long Beach (go Beach!) alumni like myself will enjoy spotting the campus in the film, in spite of the one Bucknell banner someone from set design bothered to throw up.

If you're looking for a light diversion best enjoyed with a cocktail (or some kind of booze) in hand, then this is it. Just wait till it hits Red Box. (88 min.)

—Ryah Cooley

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