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The Money Pit

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This is vintage Hanks on top form! Long before he started making 'serious' films, Tom Hanks made 'comedies'. Films which made humour into a real artform again - 'Big' 'Punchline', 'The Burbs', 'Batchelor Party' and 'The Money Pit' established him in my mind as one of the leading funnymen of the 80's.

Loosely based on 'Mr Blanding Builds His Dream House,' The Money Pit told the tale of Walter Fielding (TOM HANKS), a lawyer for Rock Bands and his partner Anna (SHELLEY LONG), a classical violinist who find themselves in sudden need of a new place to live. Anna's ex-husband Max (ALEXANDER GODUNOV) a world famous conductor, is returning home to the apartment they have been occupying. With no money of their own due to a hazy backstory concerning Walter's father and Rio De Janeiro, they hurriedly borrow money from Walter's millionaire pop star client, a precocious kid named Benny and buy their very own mansion at $200,000. Swindled by the seller - sweet eccentric Estelle (Maureen Stapleton) they move into their 'dream house' to discover it isnt quite what they had in mind.

"Ahhh... Home, Crap Home" (Walter Fielding arriving home)

Walter and Anna start to sink fast into 'The Money Pit'. At first touch, the house begins to fall down around them in a hilarious series of set pieces.

There are so many inventive calamities in this movie, that it's impossible to list them here. I will however remind you of Hanks' 'bee dance' 'soot face' and 'stuck in the rug' scenes, as well as the 'flying turkey', 'plummeting stairs and bathtub' and of course the 'electrifying kitchen'! Just seeing Hanks and Long strenuously manage to fill their cruddy bath with tepid water for a well-deserved soak, then watching as it deposits itself in the downstairs room is worth the price of this rental alone. Hanks, tired beyond belief, stands overhead laughing so hard he is silent.

Peppered with key performances from the likes of JOE MANTEGNA as Art Shirk, one half of the Shirk Bros. - "Two Weeks" - this film is endlessly quotable and a great example of a genre that didn't take itself too seriously.

Special mention is reserved for the late ALEXANDER GODUNOV as the super-vain Symphony Conductor Max Beissart who literally steals the show with his heavy Russian-accent and venomous sarcasm:-

"The Union forces me to allow you to go to lunch... those of you with consciences will not be able to eat....those of you without..go stuff yourselves..I hope you choke". (Max to his Orchestra)

Perhaps *my* favourite moment would be when the entire staircase collapses with Hanks still on it. He manges to hang momentarily until Long treads on his fingers. He plummets from the landing onto the collapsed wooden staircase below - and obviously in pain, blows back a gentle thankyou kiss.

Just rent it. You'll remember what comedies were like!

Verdict?

I've long felt that the critical bashing which the Money Pit received was hugely unjustified. Perhaps this was a simple budgetary consideration? Planned as the major summer comedy from the offices of Steven Spielberg, it's inflated $20 million cost was spent on the lavish demolition of the house and its elaborate stunts. Its subsequent return of $28 million was not staggering and audiences stayed away, fearing that farce and slapstick was not the vogue genre.

However, analysis of the movie today provides another perspective. Hanks is truly wonderful in this film and his sarcastic to manic reactions are like a textbook to how slapstick should be played. He displays perfect comic timing throughout and is well matched with the wry Shelley Long. The script provides non-stop laughs especially from supporting players like Joe Mantegna, Philip Bosco and Alexander Godunov and like the best comedies of the 1980's, it refrains from any attempts at social significance and revels cheerfully in its hapless subject.

Not to be missed - quintessential soundtrack too!

Notice any mistakes? Review

Strengths: Fantastic homor, sight gags, characters and music.

Weaknesses? Only the most cynical would fail to enjoy this charming low budget comedy.

Our rating: 9.5 out of 10


Review Written by Simon Barber:  Contact  |  More Reviews by Simon Barber
The Money Pit