Baby Driver vs. The House

I saw two movies this holiday weekend: Baby Driver and The House. My review for Baby Driver is complicated. My review for The House isn’t.

The House is a goofy movie full of silly characters in exaggerated situations. Its premise is absurd, though it knows this. It’s goal is to make you laugh simply by doing weird things that follow their own logic. There’s nothing overtly complex about it. It is unlikely to be viewed as a comedy classic, but I liked it unambiguously, which is not something I can say about Baby Driver, a movie that I struggle to rate.

This is where we get deeper into strange territory because The House, while funny, lacks ambition. It lacks even the quotable absurdity of Anchorman or Taladega Nights. There are some very funny moments, but this is unlikely to be a movie that you’ll recall in much detail afterward, aside from a few scenes here or there. And since the film wasn’t a commercial success, it’ll most likely remain obscure until perhaps it gets on Netflix or cable, where it might find its place in reruns.

But is The House a better movie than Baby Driver?

Sort of. I mean, I liked The House without ambiguity. I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it for being exactly what it was. I found the direction satisfying and the characters, absurd as they might be, likable and engaging. If we’re judging on pure enjoyment, I’d say The House wins in that category.

But Baby Driver, while flawed, is also a movie swinging for the fences. It falls flat in some places for me, particularly the third act which feels too much like a generic Crime-Caper-Gone-Wrong flick, despite the style and direction. Baby Driver might not be great for me, but it does have ambition, which I can admire. And I wouldn’t call it a bad film. It’s good, bordering on great. But that potential greatness works against it. When Baby Driver feels generic, it suddenly feels very generic by virtue of all the interesting ideas around the generic parts. Whereas The House is consistently above average throughout, which makes its lack of greatness not feel so irritating.

It feels unfair to judge a good movie aspiring to be great in a negative way while lauding a good movie aspiring to be good. Everything’s relative. I don’t have an easy answer here. Just highlighting the weirdness of criticism.

I liked both films. I just find it a lot easier to like The House, which doesn’t mean I’ll feel the same way in another month or two. Opinions evolve, and perhaps Baby Driver will grow on me while The House fades in my memory. Maybe the opposite will happen. Or maybe I’ll stop thinking about these two particular movies soon enough.

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,

LEE

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