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The House of Yes

A movie directed by Mark Waters

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You raise cattle, children just happen

  • Dec 26, 2007
Rating:
+4
Pros: Humor, Ms. Posey, Ms. Bujold, Mr. Prinze

Cons: Ms. Spelling, Mr. Hamilton

The Bottom Line: I recommend it with only one warning--if you don't like dark comedy avoid. I withhold the last star due to two performances.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

The only thing I can figure about the title The House of Yes is that the children (now adults) can get away with anything, that “yes” is always assumed. But this conclusion just doesn’t quite make sense, but then nothing else has either.

There is a hurricane in coastal Virginia. Marty Pascal (Josh Hamilton) brings his fiancé Lesly (Tori Spelling) to introduce her to the family on Thanksgiving. Marty is the twin brother of Jackie-O (Parker Posey). Jackie-O is obsessed with her brother and insane. Though there are several examples, the mother (Genevieve Bujold) says it best: “I have to go baste the turkey and hide the kitchen knives.” Anthony (Freddie Prinze Jr.) is the younger brother and is nearly as unbalanced as Jackie-O.

Apparently Marty is relatively sane when in New York City, but when he returns home, he begins to slip back into the role as the most stable (barely) member of the Pascal family. Lesly tries to bring some sense into what she sees first as just spoiled rich people then realizes that they are all quite insane; then she feels trapped.

There are too many secrets covered in 80 minutes that they would all unravel if I mentioned even one of them.

I had a bit of a problem with Ms. Spelling. She can pull off a ditzy person well enough, but Lesly needed to be a bit less ditzy and play a slightly more astute person (the lines do not have to be delivered as someone silly) this interpretation of Lesly, either by Ms. Spelling or director Mark Waters was a poor choice. In a similar fashion I had problems with Mr. Hamilton. His delivery was very flat. Considering the performances of the others, his lines fell like bricks.

Every other actor was excellent. Mr. Prinze played a purposely absentminded fop beautifully. Ms. Posey can play insane or off balance better than anyone else I’ve seen. She is typecast for this reason, but she certainly stands out in this film (it may have been the one to define her as the go-to insane girl). Ms. Bujold was fantastic. All of the banter is driven entirely by Ms. Posey, but to counterbalance her Ms. Bujold is just as funny but in a slower and dryer way. Her delivery is so subtle that it often takes a few moments to realize just how funny she is.

Wendy MacLeod who wrote the play on which the movie is based never let more than about 30 seconds go by without something insane happening or being said. Except for Mr. Hamilton’s delivery, the film is one that never lets you go; it is funny from beginning to end. The banter is extremely quick, especially Jackie-O’s. There will be times when you will want to back a scene up because almost everything she says is funny; it is also delivered with the speed of a good auctioneer.

The Pascals are a dark comedy (but always comedy) version of Southern Gothic plot which can sometimes have a bit of humor. I imagine them as a funny analog to the near tragic Compsons in at least 3 Faulkner novels.

I’ve said this before about movies that are out of the mainstream. Though you have very little time to do so, relax into it and it will not only make sense, it should leave you hurting when it is over. Well, that is true if you are a fan of dark comedy; if you aren’t, don’t watch this one.

Recommended:
Yes

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More The House of Yes reviews
review by . May 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
THE HOUSE OF YES is based on a stage play, and although I've never seen a production or read the script...the movie sure felt an awful lot like a play that did not have its script "opened up for the screen." It felt very theatrical...almost to the point where it felt like a deliberate choice to have this movie feel like a play. If that's the case, it was NOT a good choice.     THE HOUSE OF YES deals with a very messed up, upper class family who happen to live within shouting …
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Wiki

Parker Posey was the It Girl of independent film in early 1997, the year this film (along with three or four others in which she starred) all played at the Sundance Film Festival. This film was the toughest of the bunch to embrace, based as it was on a self-consciously quirky off-Broadway play about Thanksgiving at the home of a particularly strange family. Oldest son Josh Hamilton comes home from college for the holidays, with fiancée Tori Spelling in tow. What he hasn't told her is that his twin sister, Jackie-O (played by Posey), thinks she's Jackie Kennedy--or that he and Jackie-O have shared more than, shall we say, filial affection. Posey is wonderfully edgy and she and Hamilton spar with entertaining vigor, but you still have to cope with writer-director Mark Waters's pretentious script.--Marshall Fine
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Details

Director: Mark Waters
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: October 10, 1997
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: January 18, 2000
Runtime: 1hr 30min
Studio: Miramax
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