Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler headlining a film for the first time can’t be all bad.
Synopsis: When Scott and Kate Johansen’s daughter gets into the college of her dreams it’s cause for celebration. That is, until Scott and Kate learn that the scholarship they were counting on didn’t come through, and they’re now on the hook for tuition they can’t begin to afford. With the help of their friend and neighbor Frank —also in need of a major payday—they decide to open an illegal casino in his suburban house, risking everything together on a Vegas-style bacchanal where money flows, inhibitions are checked at the door, and all bets are off. (Warner Bros)
Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Jason Mantzoukas
Writers: Brendan O’Brien and Andrew Jay Cohen
Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
Running Time: 88mins
If you’ve seen any comedy, then you’ve seen this already. Suffice it to say there’s absolutely nothing original about this film whatsoever. This doesn’t necessarily make it bad by any means but it could have been so much more. Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Poehler) Johansen are parents who are forced to start an illegal casino along with their friend Frank (Mantzoukas) in order for them to afford their daughter Alex’s (Ryan Simpkins) college tuition.
The film has a simple premise that doesn’t take any chances in terms of the material script wise and chooses to play it safe for the most part. This made the story rather predictable and feeling like an extended SNL sketch. However with a relatively short running time, clocking in at just under 90 minutes, it doesn’t stretch it out for too long and runs at a brisk pace. There were a few funny moments to be had but it missed for often than it hit.
The story is contrived but that is irrelevant when it comes to films like this. To truly enjoy this film, one must turn their brain off and let themselves be entertained by the sheer silliness on screen although that can only go so far as the film lacked variety in its humour, doing the same crude jokes over and over again and getting old fast. There were a few other subplots to break up the craziness but they almost didn’t matter in the grand scheme.
Despite the lazy material, the acting was good all around with Ferrell and Poehler being the obvious standouts. They were the best part of the film as they were very fun to watch together with their chemistry making up for a lot film’s problems. Ferrell pretty much plays the same character that he’s played countless other times but it still worked up against Poehler. The same was the case for Poehler who was the crazier of the two. Mantzoukas also had great chemistry with Ferrell and Poehler and stole scenes.
Overall, this was a mediocre comedy that did not seem interested in bringing anything new to the table, giving us a lazy story with lazy writing. The film doesn’t overstay its welcome, however, and Ferrell and Poehler make it at least watchable.
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