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Wednesday 21 August 2013

Burl reviews The Money Pit! (1986)

Hi, Burl here, writing from home! I have a review for you – a picture I just watched a few days ago for the first time! Ha ha, and it shows how, if you know of the existence and the basic plot of a movie for years, you can really form your own version of it, only to be mildly shocked when the real version is so different! Ha ha, I’m talking about The Money Pit!
My imagined version of The Money Pit wasn’t really so different materially, but tonally it certainly was! I thought the movie would be more realistic, treating the states of being broke and of dealing with contractors trying to shark you with at least one foot planted in reality! But goofiness begins early in the picture, and you realize it’s more of an expensive sitcom pilot than a genuine movie!
That may sound pretty harsh, and you may be thinking “Ha ha, Burl, you’ve just got sour grapes because you were wrong!” Well, I think I watched it with a pretty clear eye, and I’ve got to report that this picture is some pretty thin soup! It’s really a series of physical gags that only occasionally ring that sweet slapstick gong, and at every other moment in the movie there’s not much else going on!
Ha ha, one might hope to achieve at least the level of realism offered by The ‘burbs, another Tom Hanks domestic comedy! But no, not really! When a movie opens with your main characters getting the old heave-ho from none other than Yakov “Brewster’s Millions” Smirnoff, you get a sausage-sniff of what you’re in for! From there, the picture flirts with realism by presenting Hanks’s money problems and the contractor difficulties he and his ladyfriend experience after purchasing a falling-apart house, but it never comes close to reflecting or commenting on actual human experience!
No, it’s pretty cartoony! Weirdly, it was shot by Gordon "The Parallax View" Willis, whose nickname “The Prince Of Darkness” you’d think would put him low on the list of lensmen one might consider for a bright, goofy comedy! It was directed by Richard Benjamin, whom I like as an actor more than as a director, ha ha! He’s always great in pictures like Catch 22 or The Last Married Couple in America!
Hanks is pretty good in the picture, though he’s no Harold Lloyd! Shelly Long, known from television, plays his friend, and we also get little appearances from many comic character actors, but none of these good people are able to help The Money Pit rise out of its own foul mire! After all, there is a scene in which a contractor spells the picture’s theme out in blazingly on-the-nose allegorical terms, ha ha!
Ha ha, there I am being overly harsh again! I promise it’s not just because the movie defied my expectations, nor it is because I have suffered excessive contractor troubles of my own and believe the subject should be treated with deadly earnestness! It’s more because the movie is flat and not too funny, and aims its comedy at moppet level while dealing with mortgage payments and construction schedules! Moppets yawn at these things – I remember from when I was a moppet!
I sort of enjoyed it when Hanks fell through the floor and was trapped in a rug-bag for hours! It had a sort of Simpsons Rake Gag endurance quality to it! Otherwise it was a film of squandered opportunities, cementing in my mind the conviction that Yakoff Smirnoff’s best movie is and always will be The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension! I give The Money Pit one and a half fine old cars!

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