Hanks' Home Under the Hammer
"The Money Pit" is a movie which seems like it is trying hard to recreate an old fashioned screwball comedy. In fact at times it feels like it has taken "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" combined it with a battle of the sex's comedy and asked Tom Hanks to give us a bit of a James Stewart character. And to be honest it is entertaining, I watched "The Money Pit" for the first time as a teen and enjoyed it and watched it more recently and still found it a pleasant distraction. But I also found that having watched many of the great screwball comedies that it lacks something to make it gel and become more than a series of gags.
Walter (Tom Hanks - The Man with One Red Shoe) and Anna (Shelley Long - Honeymoon with Mom) maybe in love but when her former husband, conductor Maestro (Alexander Godunov) returns home early from a European tour, they find themselves homeless and desperate. But luck seems to be on their side as a friend of Walter's sends them to look at a house which they can afford and they are shocked to discover it's no house but a mansion. Head over heals in love with the place they pay the money sign the contract and then, well they discover the mansion is not as good as it looks as roofs crumble, the stairs collapse, the electricity is a hazard as is the plumbing. And so before their home crumbles before their eyes they are forced into calling in the experts who promise it will only take 2 weeks!
The first three quarters of "The Money Pit" feels like it is giving us an update on "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" as we have Walter and Anna buying a house which looks too good to be true and discovering that it is a crumbling wreck. And as it starts all is well, Walter getting electrocuted by the door bell, the stairs falling down, the roof crumbling it is all funny as are the various workers who they end up employing to renovate the mansion. The trouble is that for about an hour that is all we get one accident after another, one more bill after another and it becomes a procession of gags. It lacks something to connect it together to stop it from being just a series of gags although it does feature some great gags including a destructive chain of events on the scaffolding.
The second half of the movie introduces a new focus as the stress and Anna's former husband lurking about leads to issues. You could say that "The Money Pit" almost becomes a forerunner to "The War of the Roses" with Walter and Anna stressed out and at each others throats. But it doesn't quite work, lacking the bite to make it really come to life with the venom and spite you expect. It is still entertaining and Walter has some great put downs when arguing with Anna but you sort of want more.
What this ends up meaning is that "The Money Pit" relies heavily on the likeability of Tom Hanks and Shelley Long as Walter and Anna to deliver it. And to be honest they are both likeable with Long delivering some great facial expressions whilst Hanks dominates the slapstick as one accident after another befalls him. But like with the movie as a whole you sort of want something more and whilst the supporting cast provide a distraction when it all feels samey it is still not enough to hide the deficiencies in the script.
What this all boils down to is that "The Money Pit" was and still is an entertaining movie with plenty of humour surrounding a mansion which is falling to bits. But whilst packed full of gags it ends up lacking the gel to stop it from feeling like just one comical accident after another.