The Money Pit Reviews
Many of the attributes instruction of this movie are along the lines of a classic farce; the confluence of absurd plot points and outlandish coincidences. Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) is an attorney whose girlfriend, Anna Crowley (Shelley Long), a classical musician. They find out that Walter's father, Walter Senior (Douglass Watson) has just acquired a trophy wife, Florinda (Tetchie Agbayani), down in Rio de Janeiro. It turns out that they are fleeing jurisdiction of the United States courts Walter Senior has just invested millions of dollars of his clients. More bad news follows swiftly the very next morning they are told they have to immediately vacate the apartment they are living in. They are subletting from Anna's ex-husband, Max Beissart (Alexander Godunov), narcissistic conductor. He has just re a tour in Europe turned from and is terminated the sublet agreement. Having to find a place to live immediately Walter unfortunately turns to a rather shady friend of this was a realtor. His friend tells Him about a million-dollar property is desperate to sell quickly. Any with the owner, Estelle (Maureen Stapleton), who explained that her husband, Carlos (John van Dreelen), has been arrested by the Israelis because during World War II he was employed Adolf Hitler's pool man. Young couple should've thought that something was wrong with the brief tour of the house was done exclusively in candlelight. Estelle blamed it on the lawyers forcing her to save every penny but it does manage to keep Walter from noticing many potential red flags in the property as well as the delighting Anna finds it quite romantic. In order to afford it Walter arranges financing for one of the wealthiest clients while Anna sells back her ex-husband's property that she was awarded in the divorce. As to close on the house the place begins to fall apart, literally.
The front door fell off of its frame, the main stair case collapsed like a pile of sticks and instead of potable water flowing from the taps was a viscous brown substance while the electrical system quickly catches fire. The chimney falls in on itself while the dumbwaiter shaft is inhabited by raccoons. One of the most memorable scenes of the film, the upstairs bathroom dramatically crashes through the ceiling dramatically crashing through pieces on the floor. Walter and Anna realize that they have to have serious professional help, but unfortunately all of the reputable contractors turned down the job. Finally they are able to secure the dubious services of contractors Art (Joe Mantegna) and Brad Shirk (Carmine Caridi). They take the down payment immediately begin to rip apart what's left of the structure of the house. This leaves Adam and Walter help us all facing the end endless bureaucracy of obtaining building permits. Despite all the setbacks the Shirk brothers sure the hapless couple, "It will only take two weeks". Skip ahead four months in the work is still no closer to completion. Desperate for additional funds Anna goes back to Max to sell more of the artwork she obtained in the divorce. Reluctantly, he agrees to buy it and takes her to dinner. The next morning she wakes up in his bed and Max led to believe that they slept together despite the fact that he gentlemanly took the couch. But something this emotionally crushing hanging over the relationship Walter and Anna were soon in a state of constantly arguing.
The movie is a hybrid between the wild zaniness of a farce with the well-established react play format of a traditional romantic comedy. The situation that led Walter and Anna down the abyss of this money pit was completely improbable. From a Nazi caring for swimming pool to a man embezzling millions and running off with his much younger bride, the couple is beset by a type of 'Murphy's Dominoes'. That is a term I like that describes the conjunction of the pragmatism of Murphy's Law, "if you can go wrong, it will.", With the domino effect describing how small events can cascade into each other until the problem is out of control. The situation that Walter and Anna stumbled into is a perfect example. One thing that most schools of acting will teach is that the most difficult genre to master this comedy. Really easy to get an audience to cry, but to truly make them laugh is a true art form. Some of the best dramatic actors have come from a comedic background. While this is becoming more prevalent today than ever, 30 years ago still held true. Tom Hanks possesses a story and sense of comic timing able to pull off subtleties of humor to the wild insanity of physical comedy. One of the reasons that Mr. Hanks was able to give such poignant performances as an AIDS patient, astronauts or captain of a pirated ship is because his background in comedy allows him to tap into the very essence of the human condition. This film is notable if for nothing else than because it was at the precipice of Mr. Hanks entering into the more dramatic phase of his career. Sure it is silly. With more pratfall then premise but it is timeless in the way that it can still make me laugh 30 years after my wife and I watched it in the theater.
The film has brief glimpses of potentially fun characters but does absolutely nothing with them. Numerous individuals in the show are stylized in outlandish outfits with absurd vehicles, seemingly with no purpose. The escalation of mayhem in the movie is also very poorly handled. They make no attempt to build towards a big choreographed scene with incremental moments of insanity. The movie starts too far and never really leaves that zone of too much. This might work with a three stooges style of film but the money pit seems insistent to side-track into weak moments of dialogue that are almost never funny. Alexander Godunov might be the one exception. It feels like potentially interesting side characters like Joe Mantegna were completely wasted and underdeveloped.
Tom Hanks does what he can with a lemon, which is ultimately not enough. The whole film is far too plagued with unlikeable dimwitted characters. The characters are all completely idiotic and clueless, yet we are supposed to care about their collapsing fortunes and interpersonal problems. If the bit is supposed to be the comedy, focus on the bit and leave out the poorly developed character interests.
A one-note comedy that has not aged particularly well.
The Money Pit