The House (2017) Blu-ray Review: Silly but Slight

The ensemble generates laughs, but the movie feels like watching improv actors early in the workshop phase rather than a polished product.
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From the writers of Neighbors (2014), The House (2017) is a silly comedy about two parents trying to raise money for their daughter's college tuition through an illegal home casino.  The script is slight, coming off like an outline about the characters and scenes because there's not much substance to either. It's amusing but not very memorable.

When the town pulls its scholarship fund to build a massive pool complex, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferell and Amy Poehler) aren't sure how they are going to be able to afford to send their daughter to Bucknell.  Their pal Frank (Jason Mantzoukas), who is going through a divorce in part due to his gambling issues, offers to use his home as a casino to raise the funds. Things get progressively out of hand, ranging from the amenities Frank adds to having to deal with a cheater.  Eventually, the casino is discovered by city councillor Bob Schaeffer (Nick Kroll), who shuts down the operations and takes the money, putting the Johansens in a bind.

The House has such a talented cast that I expected to laugh harder than I did.  The ensemble generates laughs, but the movie feels like watching improv actors early in the workshop phase rather than a polished product.  There's not much depth to any of the characters and some have personality changes to suit a gag rather than the humor deriving from the characters. 

The video has been presented with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer dispalyed at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1.  The image is satisfying, delivering colors in bright hues as seen during the casino sequences.  Black is inky and there is good contrast.  Details are solid.  The audio comes in English DTS-HD MA 5.1, but disappoints because it makes little use of the surrounds in terms of ambiance or music.  The dialogue-heavy track only seems interested in dialogue, which comes through clear throughout.  There is some slight distortion from the bass during the fight sequence.

The Special Features are all in HD.  The House: Playing with a Loaded Deck (13 min) is a black-slappimg promotional piece about the cast.  If You Build The House They Will Come (HD, 14 min) is about creating the sets of Frank's house, staging the fights, and making a fake hand.  There are 11 Deleted Scenes (13 min). The funniest involve Rob Huebel as Officer Chandler, including one wjere he has to tell an old lady to trim her bush.  There are 33 Extended/Alternate Scenes (80 min), which could have been titled The House 1.5.  My favorites include the laundry room sex scene between Scott and Kate and people running from Officer Chandler.  The Gag Reel (10 min) and Line-O-Ramas (9 min) repeats some Special Features material. 

From the material that didn't make the cut, it's clear a lot of improvising went into making The House, which what works but also what doesn't.  That's unfortunate because the cast has a lot of potential. The Blu-ray has video that's good enough but audio that is underwhelming.  Fans of the movie or cast should be happy with all the extras.

Don’t let the period costumes scare you away; this film is a spellbinding thriller that transcends its setting.

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