Tag Archives: will ferrell

This ‘House’ Built on a Pile of Wasted Talent


Will Ferrell really needs to stop making R-rated comedies, they’re never good.


“The House” stars Ferrell and Amy Poehler as parents who start an underground casino in order to pay for their daughter’s college tuition. Jason Mantzoukas, Ryan Simpkins and Nick Kroll also star as Andrew J. Cohen makes his directorial debut.


I was looking forward to this one ever since it was announced in early 2015. Even though he has had a losing streak lately I always try to give Will Ferrell films a chance, and writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien penned “Neighbors,” its sequel and the entertaining “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” so there was a lot here to make one opportunistic, and I would have been willing to bet on this being a success. But just like “Semi-Pro,” “Get Hard” and “Step Brothers” (don’t @ me), Ferrell again stumbles with his R-rated attempt as “The House” wastes its cast in a thinly scripted, dull and uninspired romp.


Like I said in my review of “Rough Night,” I am pretty generous to comedies. If it makes me laugh, I tend to give a film a passing grade, since a point of a comedy is to make you laugh. But “The House” doesn’t really have that many genuine moments of comedy, and the best parts of the film are in the trailer. The film is stretched so thin (it’s only 88 minutes long) that it almost doesn’t feel like a real movie, which would explain why there was only one trailer for this; had they made a second one they would have ended up showing entire film.


Some scenes last for 30 seconds simply to deliver a single punchline, while other sequences come and go without even attempting to create a laugh; or at least, no one in my audience laughed. Which is always awkward, when a film delivers a punchline then has the beat before the next line of dialogue so the audience can laugh without missing a line. But when no one laughs, the silence in the theater is only more uncomfortable.


To their credit, Ferrell and Poehler seem to be putting in at least some effort and in another project I’m sure would be a great comedic pairing. But the script doesn’t make them anything besides cookie-cutter “parents who are losing their kid to college and dread empty nest syndrome” and the supporting cast are all over-the-top characters that only exist in movies. The film’s lone bright spot is Jason Mantzoukas, who I am normally not a fan of, I think he is grating and always has the dial turned to 11 out of 10, but he is a little more tame here and has some great delivery of lines that had no right being so funny (someone asks him why he didn’t drive his car to the party and he simply goes “ha, I can’t find it.” I don’t know, I laughed).


There really isn’t much more to say about “The House.” I saw it just a few hours ago and it’s already all but gone from my mind. I can’t see this being entertaining enough for anyone to really enjoy and it is certainly a letdown given the talent on both sides of the camera. The last time Ferrell had an R-rated film in the first half of a year was “Get Hard” in 2015, and he followed it up with the not-so-great “Daddy’s Home” later than holiday season. “Daddy’s Home” is getting a sequel this November, so here’s hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.


Critics Rating: 4/10

Warner Bros. Pictures

Warner Bros. Pictures

‘Daddy’s Home’ Lazy Effort By All Involved

Daddy's_Home_posterThey say lightning doesn’t strike twice, and Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have gone through lengths to prove this.


“Daddy’s Home” stars Ferrell as a stepdad who must win the affections of his two stepkids when their estranged biological father (Wahlberg) shows up.  Linda Cardellini and Hannibal Buress also star as Sean Anders directs.


Will Ferrell is hit-and-miss for most people, but there is a pattern that makes you able to tell if a movie of his will likely be good or not. Was it rated R or PG-13? Because his R films (“Semi-Pro,” “Get Hard”) are usually unfunny while his PG-13 ones (“Anchorman,” “Talladega Nights”) work. However there’s a follow-up question: was the movie written and directed by Adam McKay? Because when it is (“The Other Guys”) the film works but when it’s not (“Land of the Lost”) it doesn’t. And guess what? “Daddy’s Home” was not directed by Adam McKay.


It was, however, directed by Sean Anders, who has directed such comedic gems as “That’s My Boy” and “Horrible Bosses 2” (sarcasm alert). It is somewhat hard to tell direction styles in comedy since camera work is usually standard and there aren’t usually many emotional scenes to have to perfect, but Anders somehow makes his films have a distinct level of laziness and snail-like pacing to them. Just like in his other directorial works, Anders allows his actors to sleepwalk through their roles here, and much of the film feels like the same scene rinsed and redressed for 96 minutes. Also like his other works, Anders feels the need to rewrite the script with his partner John Morris, which is likely how so many unfunny jokes made it into the final cut.


Will Ferrell always gives at least some effort in his works, but there are times where it is clear that it is simply about the paycheck, and this is one of those times (even millionaire celebrities have bills to pay). Ferrell seems toned down from his usual antics and high-strung rants, which sometimes works to the film’s advantage (like “Stranger than Fiction”) but more often than not is a disappointment.


Speaking of disappointment, Ferrell and Wahlberg’s last collaboration, “The Other Guys” was arguably Ferrell’s funniest film, and was what made us all realize that Marky Mark could be funny. Their chemistry in that film was off the charts, so it would be fair to assume that the same energy would come into play here, right? It doesn’t, though; Anders makes sure to smother any hope for that real quick. It’s like how Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn were great together in “Wedding Crashers” and then everyone assumed “The Internship” would be just as fun, but it turned into the opposite of that.


There are some laughs to be had in the film. As Ferrell’s boss Thomas Hayden Church offers several funny monologues about his ex-wives, although he clearly is phoning it in and Cardellini has some genuine moments as the mother, but she is for the most part wasted in a plot-dependent role.


“Daddy’s Home” isn’t an awful film, but it is certainly a frustrating one given that we’ve seen every actor in here be able to deliver hilarious products. Guess it goes to show that even comedies need good directors to keep their actors in check and make things flow, and if any Hollywood exec is reading this review (which, why wouldn’t they be?), let me tell you: Sean Anders will never be that director.

Critics Rating: 4/10

‘Get Hard’ a Waste of Two Funnymen

Get_Hard_film_posterAnd so the lackluster 2015 continues.

“Get Hard” stars Will Ferrell as a millionaire who is found guilty of fraud and bound for San Quentin prison, so he hires his car washer (Kevin Hart) to prep him for life behind bars. Etan Cohen makes his directorial debut.

Kevin Hart has never really been known for making great films. One could argue that his last film, “The Wedding Ringer”, which came out this past January, is the high point of his career but even that was pretty standard cinema. Still, when I saw he was going to pair up with funnyman Will Ferrell, I had high hopes. And that was my mistake.

The premise for “Get Hard” is by itself pretty funny, if not simplistic. A rich, pampered man is sentenced to a maximum security prison and hires a minority to teach him how to survive simply because he assumes he had been to prison; done with the right people it could’ve worked. But instead the film is overlong and stretched thin, which makes sense since two of the film’s three screenwriters write for the sketch show “Key & Peele”, and they aren’t sure how to creative a constantly flowing narrative longer than four minutes.

Many of the jokes in “Get Hard” are just either just so simple or can be seen coming from a mile away. Obviously race and rape jokes are to be expected whenever jail is the subject of a plot and some of Ferrell’s one-liners on the subjects work, but all too often I just found myself rolling my eyes.

Speaking of Ferrell, I’m really confused as to why he continues to make R-rated films. It can be argued that all of his worst films are rated R (“The Campaign”, “Semi-Pro”, and even “Step Brothers”), and for no real reason other for him to be able to say the f-bomb.

Rapper T.I. has the best lines in the movie as the head of a gang that Hart recruits to get Ferrell protected on the inside, and Hart gives the film a few shots of energy, but by the final act of the movie you really just want it to be over with.

I laughed a couple times during “Get Hard”, including once hysterically, but with the talent involved this should have resulted in a better product. This is one of Ferrell’s worst films, and come December I doubt I’ll even remember this thing exists.

If you’re looking for a breezy springtime comedy then unfortunately this is not going to fill your void for a comedy requires, well, comedy. And while “Get Hard” is good for a few chuckles, it isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as it could, and should, have been.

Critics Rating: 4/10



‘Tammy’ a Large, Unfunny Mess

Tammy_poster            I’m not going to sugarcoat it: ‘’Tammy” may be one of the most unfunny movies I’ve ever seen. And I endured through “Grown Ups 2”.

Starring and co-written by Melissa McCarthy, and directed and co-written by her husband Ben Falcone, “Tammy” follows McCarthy as she embarks on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon, only 24 years older than McCarthy in real life).

McCarthy really has been typecast at this point as the larger, sloppy woman whose life is a mess. Think about all her movies and tell me I’m wrong.  Speaking of which, her films are really hit-and-miss for me; I really liked “The Heat”, however “Identity Thief” was very underwhelming. But compared to “Tammy”, “Identity Thief” looks like comedy gold.

Not much in “Tammy” works. From the script, to the direction, to the performances, everything ranges from average to boring, near all of it being unfunny.

The script, written by McCarthy and Falcone over the period of a few years, is just so jumbled. There is a point in the film when Tammy turns to her grandmother and says “I don’t know where I’m going”. The movie has no idea, either. There are points where two characters will be in the middle of a conversation and it will just take a turn and go into darkly dramatic territory. And it doesn’t do it with finesse like “Funny People”, but actually makes you feel awkward and depressed.

Even McCarthy and Sarandon, two generally likeable actresses, are given near nothing to do and their characters are both pretty one note. Tammy is a caricature of McCarthy and doesn’t really have a character arc; Grandma is an alcoholic and that is pretty much the only thing we learn about her for the whole film. There is a brief second that Tammy addresses her grandmother’s drinking, but that is breezed over in one scene.

If the film was funny, even in a stupid way, it would be easier to forgive its structure flaws but the fact is I may have laughed twice. And those laughs were awkwardly forced because I appreciated what the effort of the actors. But I’m going to be honest: I was bored during a large portion of this movie.

“Tammy” should have been better than it is; much better, in fact. With McCarthy starring, people like Mark Duplass and Gary Cole in supporting roles, Will Ferrell producing and even Dan Aykroyd making an appearance, this kind of feels like 2012’s “The Watch”: lots of big comedic names that add nothing to a sloppy, unfunny mess.

I went into “Tammy” with an open mind; it’s been a month since “22 Jump Street” so I haven’t had a solid laugh at the movies since then. But I would watch Jump Street a hundred more times before sitting through “Tammy” again, and you would be wise to follow me. Jokes are set up and never executed, and the film is poorly edited and paced. It isn’t the point of a comedy to have fun? Because someone forgot to tell the makers of “Tammy” that.

Critics Rating: 3/10

This Just In: ‘Anchorman’ Sequel Works


          I’m gonna do the thing that God put David Palmer on this earth to do: have Sports Clips quality hair and review the entertainment medium known as movies.

It is not too often, quite rare in fact, that comedy sequels are any good. Often the sequels are lazy carbon copies of the original. “The Hangover: Part II”, “Grown Ups 2” and “Caddyshack II” (shutters) all come to mind as sequels that horrifically missed the mark. However sometimes sequels are good. “Shrek II” and “Wayne’s World 2” are such examples.

Now we have “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”, the follow-up to the 2004 hit that put Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell on the comedy map. And I am happy to report (ha, news pun) that it is not a disaster.

Once again directed by Adam McKay, the movie follows Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his news team (Rudd, Carell and David Koechner) as they move from San Diego to New York City in an effort to be part of the first ever 24 hour news broadcast channel.

The first “Anchorman” is a pop culture cornerstone, and is quoted daily. While this sequel has some entertaining one liners, one can’t help but think they may have been trying a bit too hard to reinvent the wheel. There are many moments where you get the feeling Ferrell and his friends think they just invented the next big pop culture reference, but in reality it is just a chuckle that we forget about moments later.

That is not saying the film is not funny; it has more chuckles than any film this year, and the ending is one of the most irrelevant and pleasurable sequences in cinema in i don’t know how long.

It was fun watching the movie touch on the topic of 24-hour news stations, and how they are run by big companies and sometimes cover fluff stories instead of hard hitting reports. It does this so well that one could argue the film is a satire. And since the film is set in 1980, there are a few clever jokes about future events, such as how “innocent” and “trustworthy” OJ Simpson is.

There are times the movie goes way off the tracks, involving one subplot that only produces one laugh yet lasts twenty minutes. It was random even by Will Ferrell and Anchorman standards, and I felt it was really just a pointless part of the film (I won’t say what it is for the sake of saving the one joke but trust me, it is pretty out there).

The film may not live up to the hype it built for itself (you couldn’t turn on a TV the past two months without seeing Ron Burgundy, whether he is in a car commercial or interviewing Peyton Manning for ESPN), but “Anchorman 2” is a funny movie. Yes, it is stupid and pointless and has no real structure by any conceivable measure, but if you’ve seen the first film you should expect nothing less.

It is clear that Ferrell and all the other comedic geniuses had a blast filming the movie, and that fun is quite infectious. You are having a ball alongside them, even if occasionally they are enjoying the ride a bit more than you. With a dozen fantastic cameos sprinkled in throughout the film’s running time, the movie never loses your interest and it is great to see the actors treated this like a passion project and didn’t just phone it in for an easy paycheck. And to quote Ron Burgundy: that’s kind of a big deal.

Critics Rating: 7/10