Our House (12A)

Film image

The ViewBirmingham Review

StarStarStarNo StarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner26/04/2004

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 83 mins

Well-acted, frequently amusing comedy that lacks the courage to be as dark as it needs to be.

Formerly known as Duplex in the U.S., Our House is directed by Danny DeVito, who also narrates the amusing animated opening sequence. On paper, DeVito would seem the ideal choice for this material, as it has the potential to be a comedy as deliciously black as DeVito’s The War of the Roses. Sadly, however, it opts for varying shades of grey instead and suffers accordingly, though there are plenty of decent laughs along the way and Barrymore and Stiller make an appealing couple.

Duped Over Neighbour From Hell

Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore star as Alex and Nancy, a young, successful New York couple (he’s a novelist, she’s a magazine journalist) who are looking to buy their own home. Charmed by realtor Harvey Fierstein, they decide to buy a beautiful old town house. However, the house comes with an additional feature: an elderly upstairs tenant named Mrs Connelly (Eileen Essell), who’s protected by rent-control. Believing her to be in poor health, Alex and Nancy move into their new home, only for Mrs Connelly to make a ‘remarkable’ recovery and to slowly transform into the Neighbour From Hell…

Chiefly notable for being the second film (after The Girl Next Door) in only two weeks to feature an Attack Parrot, Our House has its fair share of decent gags and good lines. Highlights include a scene with a loaded harpoon gun and a hilarious sequence involving a ‘clapper-switch’. The film isn’t above gross-out humour, either – there’s a particularly nasty vomit scene that will put you right off your popcorn.

Stiller’s Comedy Reputation Enhanced

Ben Stiller continues to enhance his reputation for the Comedy Of Embarrassment, to the point where it’s almost as if he’s channelling Basil Fawlty-era John Cleese – if you want Comedy Shouting, Stiller is your man.

Similarly, Drew Barrymore is as adorable here as she was in 50 First Dates – she and Stiller make an extremely appealing onscreen couple. There’s also good support from Essell and Fierstein, as well as James Remar as a hit-man who bites off more than he can chew.

The main problem with Our House is that it doesn’t have the guts to take its premise to its logical conclusion – the comparison with DeVito’s The War of the Roses is an apt one, because the comedy in both films comes from the continuing escalation of hostilities between the two parties, to the point where you can barely bring yourself to watch anymore. The difference is that Alex and Nancy are too likeable: they never really deserve what happens to them and they’re not nasty enough to take proper revenge.

That said, there are plenty of laughs along the way, courtesy of a witty script and strong comic performances from all concerned. Worth seeing.

Our House has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 23/03/2019 17:26

Latest Film Reviews

Film Blog

Urban Pundit

Keep up to date with everything in film and cinema at Urban Pundit, the exciting new blog.

Film of the Week

The Conjuring (15)

Hugely enjoyable, genuinely scary horror flick that provides a welcome throwback to classic 1970s chillers, thanks to impeccable production design, a superb script, powerfully atmospheric direction, intense set-pieces and terrific performances.

Latest Close Up

Noah Baumbach Interview

The Frances Ha director discusses co-writing the script with Greta Gerwig, shooting against the backdrop of New York and the real lives of the city’s people, Greta Gerwig’s performance, the music in the film and the picture's visual style.