Edit ModuleShow Tags

Will Ferrell Tries to Recapture Some Magic with The House

Reviews of "The House" and "Despicable Me 3," plus local movie news and notes.




Photo by Glen Wilson. © 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Village Roadshow Films North America Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC.
 

While we weren’t looking, Will Ferrell become an unreliable movie star.

The statement is blasphemous to many, I know — particularly those whose late-teen, early-20s  overlapped with a run of dumb-yet-irresistible comedies starring the “SNL” alum. “Old School,” “Elf,” “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” and “Step Brothers” made lifelong fans of a legion of early-Millennial moviegoers.

(By the way, “Talladega Nights” is incontrovertibly the best of those films and anyone who disagrees is wrong.)

Here’s the thing, though: The most recent of those films, “Step Brothers,” is nearly a decade old. The oldest, “Old School,” premiered 14 summers ago. And more recent feature comedies by Ferrell — “Daddy’s Home,” and “Get Hard,” a sequel to “Anchorman” — have been inconsistent at best.

So “The House,” a new comedy written by the team behind “Neighbors” and last summer’s underrated “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates,” pairs Ferrell with Amy Poehler, another undeniable comedy titan. The result could’ve been one of two things: A confirmation that Ferrell’s stock has dipped significantly, or a return to form.

It turned out to be the former. “The House” is a definite miss.

After a nefarious town councilman (Nick Kroll) misappropriates the funds necessary to grant their daughter a college scholarship, Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Poehler) team up with gambling-fiend buddy Frank (Jason Mantzoukas, who steals the show) to operate an unlicensed casino for their suburban friends. There are the hiccups you'd expect of cul-de-sac parents turned pit bosses; a wholly predictable drunk-with-power thing happens later. There are occasional laughs based on the unbreakable comedic timing of this trio, but the script is barren when it comes to jokes — or, honestly, clever writing of any kind.

The stakes never feel genuine, the premise is thin (the film's runtime is a mere 88 minutes, the last few of which are credits and a blooper real for padding) and none of the considerable comedic talents involved seem to care whether the project sinks or floats.

With luck, “The House” will be swiftly forgotten and all involved can return to form. It would've been nice if they could've done it here ... but sometimes, that's the way the dice roll.

(Listen, it took incredible restraint to only use one tacky casino metaphor. Let's just move on.)

*    *    *

In a feeble effort from an uncertain studio, “Despicable Me 3” is an animated comedy equal parts mean-spirited and forgettable. Despite a solid-enough opening chapter in this villain-turned-good franchise, the brand from Illumination Entertainment’s alleged flagship property has since been fully hijacked by the Minions, wacky sideline characters in the original film; their standalone feature, while awful, netted more than a billion dollars at the global box office in 2015. Rather than follow the money, though, Illumination here attempts to re-juice the original franchise with a bland twin-brother storyline (both Gru and newcomer Dru are voiced by Steve Carell) and an occasionally entertaining new villain (voiced by “South Park” creator Trey Parker). The few laughs aren’t enough to overcome a number of jokes that come across as petty, and a pervasive sense of angry childishness has become the series’ hallmark. Furthermore, the film quickly divides into a series of unrelated plotlines that even a half-hour sitcom script could’ve wrapped up more elegantly. Will all this deter youngsters from laughing at the crude humor and slapstick? No, of course not. Does it mean adults should evaluate whether or not the kids are old enough to see a film unsupervised, avoiding theaters showing “Despicable Me 3” if at all possible? Definitely.

*    *    *

The Montage: The 1968 concert documentary “Monterey Pop” returns to screens in a new restoration; it plays at the Harris Theater through next Thursday. See landmark performances from Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and more; click here for showtimes ... Meanwhile, the venerable Regent Square Theatre has been dark for a few days due to technical difficulties. Hopefully, it’s a short-lived interruption ... It’s Fantasy Week at Row House Cinema, including screenings of the near-perfect “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Stardust,” “Coraline” and “The Pagemaster.” They’re also rolling out a new midnight-movie series, with one-show-only, Saturday-night screenings along monthly themes. The inaugural “Midnight Edition” theme is “Odd Enemies,” and “Troll 2” is the first feature ... Sofia Coppola’s latest, “The Beguiled,” also debuts this week; why not make a trip to The Tull Family Theater to see it? It’s one of this week’s features at the Sewickley arthouse.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Matt Murray's Focus is on the Journey, Not the Destination

Matt Murray's Focus is on the Journey, Not the Destination

The Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender already has his name on the Stanley Cup — twice. Matt Murray may be a champion, but he’s still working diligently to improve his game.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2017 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2017 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine highlights the unsung heroes of the health care field: our Excellence in Nursing honorees, chosen by our panel of distinguished nursing professionals.
Restaurant Review: Superior Motors

Restaurant Review: Superior Motors

Kevin Sousa’s long-anticipated project fires on all cylinders as a restaurant. But, will it fulfill its larger mission?
Pittsburgh City Steps: An Artist Tells Their Stories

Pittsburgh City Steps: An Artist Tells Their Stories

Artist Laura Zurowski is on a mission to document Pittsburgh's public steps in an unorthodox way.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Can't Get No Satisfaction - Renters in Pittsburgh?

Can't Get No Satisfaction - Renters in Pittsburgh?

A new study suggests Pittsburgh tenants are far from thrilled with where they live.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Just in Time for the Holidays: Miracle Returns to Downtown

Just in Time for the Holidays: Miracle Returns to Downtown

The over-the-top holiday-themed bar opens at the Original Oyster House the night after Thanksgiving.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

The winner received the most votes among five dogs, four cats and a bunny.

Comments


Steal the Crown Jewels at Escape Room 51

Steal the Crown Jewels at Escape Room 51

The new escape game is instantly among the best in town.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Are Steelers Good Enough to Overcome Themselves?

Are Steelers Good Enough to Overcome Themselves?

The time has come for the offense to more often resemble what everyone thought it would become this season, as opposed to sinking on occasion to a Cleveland Browns-esque level of ineptitude.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Justice League Could've Been Worse (But Should've Been a Lot Better)

Justice League Could've Been Worse (But Should've Been a Lot Better)

Reviews of "Justice League," "Wonder" and "Lady Bird," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
One for the History Books: A Cathedral of Learning Proposal

One for the History Books: A Cathedral of Learning Proposal

This groom-to-be popped the question at new heights, potentially making him the first person to propose on top of the University of Pittsburgh’s signature structure.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Iconic Kaufmann’s Building Gets New Lease with Luxury Apartments, Hotel

Iconic Kaufmann’s Building Gets New Lease with Luxury Apartments, Hotel

The developer behind Kaufmann’s Grand on Fifth Downtown promise to meld the historic with the modern as it readies to open more than 300 residential units featuring voice-command system Amazon Alexa, plus a rooftop infinity pool, restaurant and bar.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments