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24 September 2014
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Our House
15Our House (2004)

updated 24 April 2004
reviewer's rating
1 out of 5
Reviewed by Stella Papamichael
average user rating
2 Star


Director
Danny DeVito
Writer
Larry Doyle
Stars
Ben Stiller
Drew Barrymore
Eileen Essel
Harvey Fierstein
Justin Theroux
Robert Wisdom
Length
88 minutes
Distributor
Buena Vista
Cinema
30 April 2004
Country
USA
Genre
Comedy

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Average star rating: 2 from 226 votes

Director Danny DeVito aspires to the impish humour of Ealing classic The Ladykillers (1955) with the story of a young couple who make reluctant plans to bump off the old lady who lives upstairs. Alas, Our House is built on gravely shallow foundations, and despite the comic talents of Ben Stiller it's so unfunny you could find yourself becoming all too aware of your own mortality.

After a pointless animation skit, the action opens on the happy couple falling in love with a grand old duplex (a maisonette) in Brooklyn, New York. Ben Stiller is Alex, a novelist facing a deadline for that all-important second book, and Drew Barrymore is his soggy (wishes she was sassy) girlfriend, Nancy.

"WOEFULLY OFF-BASE"

Old bird Mrs Connelly (Eileen Essell) is the one glitch in their vision of domestic bliss. She has permanent tenancy on the first floor and, despite her outward frailty, turns out to be - you guessed it - 'the neighbour from hell'. Through a series of ill-conceived and frankly exasperating setups, Alex and Nancy are driven to homicidal distraction, not unlike the experience of watching this film.

A scene where Alex performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the crusty Mrs Connelly is the only moment that approaches funny in a string of gags that are woefully off-base. Sitting uncomfortably between black humour and cutesy comedy, the script is riddled with falsities that even dare to defy science. Marvel as Alex uses a clap-sensitive remote control to turn down the volume on Mrs Connelly's TV - through ten inches of plaster and hardwood flooring.

Stiller's gawky charm and comic timing are done disservice by DeVito, who cuts the film at the pace of a Merchant Ivory melodrama. Meanwhile Barrymore wanders through scenes as if she has trouble remembering what day it is. And as the poisonous biddy, Eileen Essell hams it up so shamelessly it'd make Kenneth Branagh blush. Pull the shutters down and walk away - Our House is rotten to the rafters.

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