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"House of D" Movie Review

House of Pain is More Like It


Anton Yelchin Robin Williams House of D

Anton Yelchin and Robin Williams in “House of D”

© Lions Gate Films
If “House of D” doesn’t wind up on an overwhelming majority of the ‘Worst Films of 2005’ lists, it’ll only be due to the fact 2005 ended up being a really crappy year for movies. I’ve seen bad movies this year – “The Ring 2,” “Hide and Seek,” and “White Noise” to name a few – but “House of D” has earned the top spot on my list of movies I would like to forget being made to sit through this year. If only I owned a time machine…

David Duchovny’s misguided “House of D” is now the barometer I use to judge how bad other films are. If I walk out of a movie and say, “Well, that was bad but it wasn’t ‘House of D’ bad,” then I know what review rating I’ll be able to settle on without feeling guilty. In a weird, twisted way, I’m actually grateful to David Duchovny for making a film like this, which so easily defines what earns an ‘F’ rating in 2005.

2003 had its “Gigli” (the film I had been using up to this point to judge just how awful a movie is) and now 2005 has its “House of D.” What’s strange is that you don’t have to look far to find similarities between the two grossly overblown, incomprehensible films. Both starred off-screen couples. Both movies took too many liberties with their characters. “Gigli” and “House of D” are examples of films that require their lead actors to do things not only outside the confines of their characters personalities, but outside the realm of believability for audiences. And both movies treat moviegoers as though we’re brainless, lemming-like suckers.

What’s “House of D” about you ask? 96 minutes too long. No, ostensibly the story is about a man who is analyzing the wreck that is his adult life by looking back on his troubled childhood. Told in flashback (an annoyance more than anything) the man (David Duchovny) recalls being a 13 year-old growing up in Greenwich Village with a pill-popping mom (Tea Leoni) and a best friend who was 40+ years-old and developmentally disabled (played by a way over the top Robin Williams with grotesquely bad dentures).

Tommy recalls that in his teen years, he formed an absolutely unexplainable relationship with a woman who was serving time in prison and who sang for no reason other than the fact she’s played by Erykah Badu in his flashbacks. The young Tommy (Anton Yelchin in a role that shouldn’t win him any fans) confided everything to this prisoner confined to the House of D and housed in a cell a couple floors off of street level. Don’t ask how this kid connected with this total stranger and definitely don’t try and figure out how they communicated being so physically far apart and considering the fact Erykah Badu didn’t even necessarily speak out the window while she carried on a conversation with Tommy way down below. It’s just another “House of D” instance where the filmmaker wants us to forget the need to tell a story that makes sense.

Speaking of not making sense, though I'd rather completely put the character of Pappass (Williams) out of my mind, it’s necessary to add a little more about this disturbing portrayal of a man with a developmental disability. People who have development disabilities can’t all of a sudden decide to act smart because their friend needs them to. It just doesn’t happen.

I love stupid, mindless entertainment (see “Eurotrip”) but there’s a limit to what even I’ll put up with. “House of D” was so bad it forced me to do something I never do while watching a film in a theater. I took a break. I just couldn’t take it anymore. My mind was reeling at the absurdity of it all. So that I didn’t disturb the other half dozen critics who were busy scribbling away notes, I went into the lobby, engaged in conversation for 10 or so minutes, and then forced myself to endure the last half of the movie. I re-entered the theater only to discover I hadn’t missed a thing. Darn it.

I realize it’s Duchovny’s rookie effort and that he’s extremely passionate about this film, but there’s no way I can in good conscience recommend anyone spend a dime on purchasing a ticket for this film. My advice is to stay as far away as possible from this “House.”


"House of D" was written and directed by David Duchovny and is rated PG-13 for sexual and drug references, thematic elements and language.

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