The Money Pit

The Money Pit. U-Drive Productions 1986.

Before watching the movie:

So a young couple makes a real estate investment to live their dream, and then everything that could possibly go wrong with that choice does. That sounds a lot like The Long, Long Trailer to me. Only this time it’s Tom Hanks and Shelley Long, and the house doesn’t roll. (Probably.)

Unlike that movie, a lot of the problems turn out to be disastrous unexpected costs, rather than just ruining their marriage, which probably happens too, because money is the top reason couples fight.

After watching the movie:

Walter is completely broke because his father stole millions from the law firm and fled the country. His girlfriend, Anna, a professional classical musician, has never put in a day’s hard work in her life, and is also completely broke. Unexpectedly booted from her ex-husband/conductor’s apartment early, they have to find a place to live in New York in under a week. Good fortune seems to have come their way though, when they get referred to a million-dollar house the elderly owner needs to sell fast for $200,000 cash. There’s some minor fix-ups that need to be done, but it’s a beautiful house, and Walter and Anna make the deal, scrounging up loans and going in as equal financial partners. But as soon as they move in, the house begins to crumble underneath their feet, usually literally. All the reputable contractors know the house’s reputation and refuse to go near it, so Walter has to hire the Shirk Brothers to make the necessary repairs. As “two weeks” turns into months of their home terrorizing them, only the strength of their relationship sees them through, until even that begins to fall apart.

Most of the attention of the movie is given to wacky things happening because the house is falling apart or the contractors are a pain. The plot is mostly a device to do physical comedy. Eventually, an emotional curveball comes in to motivate the crisis that every story needs to have resolved, but that complication that blows up their relationship is resolved as easily as it’s introduced. Because just like their fight isn’t really about the relationship, it’s about their frustrations about the house, the movie is really about the house too. Which is why it’s a little unfortunate the biggest slapstick sequence that seems like it should be a major setback is forgotten as soon as the audience stops laughing.

The couple moving to a house way out of the way and finding it needs a lot more work then they expected reminds me of the beginning of Do Not Disturb,  before it makes a few 90 degree turns. There’s even a scene where the wife is scared by a wild animal living in the house in both. Apparently though this is based on a completely different vintage movie that is probably about as recognizable in it as Do Not Disturb and The Long, Long Trailer.

This movie promises worst to even worse turns of fate and prop/slapstick comedy, and that is exactly what it delivers. Even if it’s to the point of having a thin plot, you paid to see Tom Hanks dangle from what was a staircase a minute ago, and that is exactly what you receive.

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