Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Money Pit (1986)

An Underrated Comedy Starring Tom Hanks & Shelley Long

"The Money Pit" is an underrated, romantic, slapstick comedy telling the story of an unmarried couple that unwittingly decides to purchase a large house in dire need of repair. The couple, Walter Fielding, Jr. (Tom Hanks) and Anna Crowley Beissart (Shelley Long), have a strong relationship until Anna's former husband, Max Beissart (Alexander Godunov), returns to claim the apartment where they have been living in NYC. Being forced to move, Walter and Anna decide to purchase a house and find what they believe is a dream house being sold by a seemingly eccentric widow, Estelle (Maureen Stapleton), in Long Island. Walter and Anna hurriedly purchase the house and move in. However, after a series of mishaps, they soon discover that their dream house has a number of problems. Having both invested a sizeable amount of their savings into the house, Walter and Anna have no choice except to hire contractors with dubious reputations to repair the problems.

Anyone who has dealt with home repair issues (as I have) will no doubt identify with the trials and tribulations endured by Walter and Anna. Of course, many of the mishaps they experience in the film are exaggerated but very memorable, including the falling staircase, the crashing bathtub and the exploding kitchen. Naturally, stress resulting from the amount of money invested, the various mishaps and the prolonged loss of privacy due to the presence of many construction workers severely tests Walter and Anna's relationship. Max's presence as conductor of the symphony where Anna performs as a violinist doesn't help matters either.

Being an exceptional actor, Tom Hanks did an excellent job with his portrayal of Walter, ranking equally with his performances in "Splash" (1984), "Big" (1988) and "Joe Versus the Volcano" (1990). Shelley Long's performance is also quite good. Other memorable characters in the film include the Shirk Brothers (the dubious contractors): Art Shirk (Joe Mantegna) and Brad Shirk (Carmine Caridi); as well as construction foreman Jack Schnittman (Josh Mostel). Sadly, when the film was released in 1986, it was snubbed by critics and earned poor box office receipts. Admittedly, the film is not perfect, but I rate "The Money Pit" with a very strong 4 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good slapstick comedy or to anyone contemplating the purchase or renovation of a house. The film also has a strong and simple lesson: buyer beware.

The Money Pit - Trailer (1986)

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