So, my husband and I recently bought a new house. The house we currently live in has been a bit of a fixer-upper; requiring more fixing up than we first realized when we bought it. With all of the work we’ve had to do on it – windows, the roof and flooring – we started to lovingly/frustratingly call our home “The Money Pit.” Last weekend, we were hanging out at home in front of the TV, channel surfing, when we happened upon The Money Pit. I’d seen the movie several times before, but during this particular viewing, after our experiences as first-time homeowners of a house that’s claimed a lot of our money for various repairs, I enjoyed it (and came to appreciate our house and all of its problems) on a completely different level.
If you’ve seen The Money Pit, you’ll recall that everything - and I mean everything - that can go wrong with a resale house, goes wrong for the couple who buy it. The unfortunate couple is played by Shelley Long and Tom Hanks who out of desperation buy a country estate at an extremely low price. The movie’s plot consists of little more than one sight gag after another, but it’s those sight gags that keep you watching for some inexplicable reason. Sure they’re monotonous and they go on and on and on, but you can’t help but to keep watching to see what horrible catastrophe is going to happen next.
The problems with the house start when Walter Fielding (Tom Hanks) slams the front door and it falls off its hinges. Walter has suspected that something is seriously wrong, and boy, are his feelings bang on. We see a staircase connecting the first and second floors completely collapse. The bathtub in the upstairs bath falls through the floor and shatters into tiny pieces as Walter is filling it. The pipes don’t function and all that pours out of them is brown, muddy goo. The electrical wiring is so defective that it catches fire and burns a trail around the kitchen, and the oven explodes.
The film relies entirely on slapstick comedy, outlandish sight gags and special effects, and as the movie progresses you can see the inventiveness start to strain when the perils that befall the couple become overly repetitive. The scene where Walter falls through a hole in the floor and is stuck there for hours becomes groan-inducing because it lasts much longer than it should. The most memorable scene is when Walter makes one misstep that sets in motion an elaborately choreographed collapse of a series of scaffolds involving paint and plaster, construction workers and tools. It’s a pretty impressive spectacle that is quite amazing to behold if you consider how much time it probably took to shoot that scene and the finesse it required to pull it off.
Though the film tells a simple story with repetitive gags for 91 minutes, I couldn’t help but be entertained by Hanks and Long who make a great comedic duo. Hanks’ sarcasm and manic reactions are complimented perfectly by Long’s wry comedic style. You can see the next gag coming and watching the house fulfill my worst expectations is what provided the most enjoyment. Some might find this film unfunny and witless, but I enjoyed watching it again and it left me appreciating my own money pit that much more.