Movie Review By Andrea Chase
"The House of Yes" would like to be a slick and witty black comedy about incest. Instead, it's a self-consciously verbose film that is painfully turgid and offensively elitist.
It is a dark and stormy night as the Pascal family awaits the return of prodigal son Marty from the wilds of New York. Mother Genevieve Bujold, doing her impression of a gargoyle, frets over the relative sanity of spoiled and dangerous daughter Jackie-O, played by a sadly wasted Parker Posey. In addition to an obsession with effervescent beverages and an unnatural fear of losing her hairbrush, Jackie-O models herself not on Jackie Onassis, but on the Kennedy incarnation of the former Ms Bouvier, right down to the Kenneth J. Lane pearls and circa 60s sheath dresses. She even owns a copy of the pink boucle Chanel suit, which she's garnished with ketchup and macaroni as ersatz presidential blood and brains.
One wonders what could possibly tempt Marty back home, fiancee in tow, until it becomes clear that his primary erotic attraction isn't for his sweet but dumb intended, played with too little comedic spin by Tori Spelling. In less time than it takes to play a bothersome duet, brother and sister are eroticizing the Kennedy assassination while a soon to be clued in Tori fends off the amorous advances of the younger Pascal brother, played with naive charm by Freddie Prinze, Jr.
Another irritant is the dialogue. It's Mamet-like without being Mametesque. As in "So you haven't told her?" No I haven't told her." "How can you not tell her." I'll tell her." "Do you think we should tell her?" The rat-a-tat tat of repetition is here reduced to a monotonous drone.
"The House of Yes" does raise interesting questions about incest between consenting adults, but it doesn't follow through, nor does it address the biggest question, why bother making this film? I can only surmise that the critics who gave it a rave review at Sundance were suffering from hypothermia.
© 1997 • Andrea Chase • Air Date: 10/15/97
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