With the talent involved in this picture, the safe money had to be it on being a laugh riot. You'd have to be crazy to bet against the comedic firepower of Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell and television's bearded wild man Jason Mantzoukas.

The premise is fairly ridiculous; Poehler and Ferrell are a married couple who open an illegal casino in their friend's living room in the hopes of making enough money to send their daughter to university. Desperate times, desperate measures and all that.

Their pal, played by Mantzoukas - who dials down the crazy but remains an unpredictable presence - goes all in on the idea and soon expands the operation to include all the trappings of Vegas.

To borrow a phrase, things escalate quickly and soon enough their friendly little casino is hosting grudge fights, sending their friends into debt and attracting the attention of the local mob and the authorities.

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As things get out of hand, the violence ramps up. It's often unexpected and fairly graphic. Even though it's very cartoony you may want to stay away if the sight of blood makes you queasy ...

But underneath all the wacky hi-jinks and bloody violence The House is a film about parenting. The lengths your average mum and dad will go to for their children. It's also refreshing to see a movie where both, ma and pa, are egging each other on instead of berating each other. In some ways, it's kind of sweet.

But is it funny? You bet it is. Poehler and Ferrell have terrific comedy chemistry together and their gleeful transformation from hapless parents into intimidating mob toughs offers some of the funniest moments in the film.

Although it isn't the instant comedy classic that their involvement may suggest, The House still brings home enough laughs to make it worth taking a punt on.

Cast: Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell, Jason Mantzoukas
Director: Andrew Jay Cohen
Rating: R16 (Violence, sexual references, offensive language and drug use)
Running time: 88 mins
Verdict: Comedy that's worth taking a punt on