Stewart's Family Vacation
As someone who always enjoys watching James Stewart act I can't always say I enjoy the movies he acts in. One which sadly leaves me under whelmed is "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" a tale of a turbulent family holiday. It's a familiar story, as we watch the Hobbs family go on vacation and Mr. Hobbs ending up not having much of a holiday but the trouble is that it plays like a series of gags, some overly repetitive, some out of place and some to be honest which are quite funny. So whilst I once more enjoyed watching James Stewart and also Maureen O'Hara the simple and obvious storyline to "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" failed to really capture my attention.
Roger Hobbs (James Stewart - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) is a busy man, working at a bank and fed up of the over crowded city he lives in, all he wants is to take his wife Peggy (Maureen O'Hara - The Parent Trap) away for a romantic, care free vacation. But Mrs. Hobbs has other ideas and wants a vacation for the whole of the Hobbs family including their grown up children. Well Mrs. Hobbs gets her way and the vacation by the sea turns out to be both a vacation of headaches and fun as well as some family bonding and shall we say some mixed blessings.
The storyline to "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" is quite stereotypical of many movies which focus on a family vacation and as such there is a sort of routine feel to things. We get a range of almost stock scenes from the semi rowdy journey to the beach house, the turbulent teens that seem set on not enjoying their vacation, the expected romance and some father child bonding. It's all in there and whilst some scenes work better than others "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" certainly feels familiar.
Even attempts to deliver some sort of depth, with family issues between older children, fails to really make "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" vastly different to any other family vacation movie. Although the rather strange book ending of the movie with Mr. Hobbs in his office dictating a letter to his wife feels weird, as is the occasional third person narration which not so much interjects but interrupts the flow of the movie.
What this all means is that "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" works strongly on a series of situations and scenes many of which are written to be funny but not always making you laugh. You get the rickety old beach house, the strange plumbing and pump, the teenage daughter embarrassed by her braces and being set by the ocean a boat trip amongst numerous other situations. I am sure that when released in 1962 the humour on show, the slightly exaggerated situations were funny, but now it just feels rather obvious, too obvious in fact with certain elements such as the plumbing and the party line phone system feeling just slightly repetitive as the same gag is revisited a few times.
But there is a plus point when it comes to "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" and that is James Stewart who shows what a dab hand he was when it came to comedy. From exaggerated movements to facial expressions Stewart pretty much delivers all the humour and makes it a slightly enjoyable movie. Aside from James Stewart well the rest of the cast end up feeling like supporting performers with the movie relying heavily on Stewart to carry it. Maureen O'Hara as Mrs. Hobbs is delightful and supportive whilst in her first movie Lauri Peters delivers a nice portrayal of a shy teenager as Katey, although the unexpected song and dance scene she shares with Fabian as they warble their way through "cream puff, shortcake" just feels completely out of place and more at home in a musical or "Summer Holiday".
The thing is that whilst I struggle to really enjoy "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" I can appreciate that for those who went on these sort of family vacations, with the father trying to help everyone have a good time as he battles turbulent teens and older family problems will get more from it. There is a sort of realism to it all beneath the exaggerated set pieces and comedy and in a strange way it makes me wish that I had experienced such a vacation.
What this all boils down to is that "Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation" is what it is a piece of fluffy family fun which will appeal to those who have shared a similar family vacation. But for those who haven't it feels too much like a movie built on a series of situations, set piece gags and an over reliance on James Stewart to make it all work.