Laughing gas inside the Buckingham Palace? Seriously? Is that what being Sajid Khan - a comic who once made laugh tracks redundant - has come to now?
Desperation is when Housefull packs in a throng of people at a royal function and lets loose a cylinder of nitrous oxide so that they all hysterically roar with laughter for a few minutes. Irony is when those few minutes are met with an embarrassed silence this side of the cinema screen.
Housefull is not a noisy flick. In fact, it is pretty far from being noisy - it's a largely joke-less film. There's just too much waiting time in between the gags, and when they do come in they're not even remotely brilliant.
The theme is "confusion", as though there never is another premise for comedy. Essentially, Aarush (Akshay Kumar) and Sandy (Deepika Padukone), and Hetal (Lara Dutta) and Bob (Riteish Deshmukh), are two couples who must swap and pretend to be a lot of things they are not in order to keep Hetal's father (Boman Irani) in good spirits. Simultaneously, they must un-swap in order to keep Sandy's brother (Arjun Rampal) from mowing down Aarush.
There's also the unclosed chapter of Aarush's past - earlier, his newly-wedded wife (Jiah Khan) had walked out on him to another man according to a plan she had had, and her overly loud father (Randhir Kapoor) doesn't yet know about the split.
Housefull is devoid of good writing, and the fact that its plot is too sticky in public memory
does not help. If you're looking for true take-home moments, or even for-the-moment thigh-slapping bits, there are none. There is a long gay sequence made funny because if its sheer suggestiveness, a little physical (but thankfully not vulgar) humour, and much much unnecessary tangling of situations.
And we're not even getting into the blatant inanity being passed off as wacky - two out of the foursome end up picking up a random black baby from a pram on the road to tell Boman Irani she's his granddaughter. Things reach the depths of un-funny in the Buckingham Palace, with all the laughing gas, and the scene is preceded by a millenium-old Santa Banta joke.
Akshay Kumar, given the responsibility to make everything make sense, tries. His character Aarush is one who is honest and upright, and Akshay pulls it off with all his poker-faced glory. On the other hand, it's a pity to watch Riteish Deshmukh being criminally wasted - he perpetually looks "ready" for the next joke, one that never really comes about. And Boman Irani cannot save the day either. His is a weak shadow of all his previous characters.
Which brings us to the other bunch of reasons people are heading to theatres screening this one - the women. Lara Dutta tries American-sitcom-riotous but ends up loud and ill-timed. Deepika Padukone is all bod and not much else as usual, and Jiah Khan hardly has a role.
Glossy production values and a lot of skin show certainly shoot up the watchability of Housefull, including in the songs. The music, though, is mediocre fare.
Overall, Housefull is not the watermelon substitute you were expecting. Watch it only if you absolutely must.