Sinbad Steals Identity
If I was 10 years younger I would probably be telling you how enjoyable "Houseguest" is, how much I enjoyed it as a young teen when I first watched it. But I'm not, I was 23 when "Houseguest" was released and it never even appeared on my radar as a movie I would want to watch and now having watched it, it did little for me. There is nothing technically wrong with it, Sinbad is fun as a con artist trying to avoid a money lender's inept henchmen and he works well with Phil Hartman but it is forgettable with nothing which stands out as being that different or funny.
As a kid Kevin Franklin (Sinbad - Jingle All the Way) said he would be a millionaire and now 25 years & 4 days later he s still looking for that get rich quick opportunity, ducking and diving his way through life as he tries to avoid the henchmen sent after him by a money lender. It is because of this that he ends up conning his way into the life of Gary Young (Phil Hartman) and his family, pretending to be a friend which Gary hasn't seen since childhood summer camp. But as Kevin ducks and dives his way through a series of sticky situations he actually grows fond of Gary and his family, a troubled family at that in need of some help.
It's very easy to see why "Houseguest" was made, at the time Sinbad was at the height of his fame having had his own TV series and this was a vehicle to help establish him as a movie star. There is nothing wrong with that because Sinbad in the mid 90s was a funny guy and I hope still is, but it does mean that whilst we have a storyline about a conman learning that there is more to life than self self self it is really the Sinbad show.
As such the actual storyline is play it by numbers as we have the humour of Kevin avoiding heavies, ducking and diving out of situations when he doesn't know who they guy is he is pretending to be and then ending up helping out Gary and his family be it the son when he is bullied on the baseball court or the Goth teen daughter with boyfriend issues. It is one of the reasons why "Houseguest" is forgettable because everything in this movie is a cliche.
So as already mentioned "Houseguest" is basically a vehicle for Sinbad and to start with it is fun watching him with dreams of getting rich quick or ducking and diving when he finds himself in front of a school assembly to talk on career day. But the trouble is that the longer it goes on the more mundane it becomes because too much Sinbad is not necessary bad but monotonous. And whilst "Houseguest" sees Sinbad partnered up with Phil Hartman it is not enough to provide a big enough variation in comedy to make it feel funny for the whole 113 minutes.
That brings me to another problem and at just 7 minutes short of 2 hours "Houseguest" is too long with scenes drawn out to the point that anything which was funny is lost as you wish it would move on. The opening sequence which sees Kevin in his clapped out old car is so long that even Sinbad ends up looking uncomfortable in it. And then there is the product placement scene, a nice bit of promotion for McDonalds which again is amusing to start with but goes on past the point of being funny.
What this all boils down to is that "Houseguest" is very much a movie for young teenagers who probably wont spot that there is nothing original about the story or humour and will enjoy watching Sinbad duck and dive his way out of various situations.