I had high hopes for this film. I’ll gladly watch Tom Hanks in anything (I didn’t even mind Larry Crowne that much), and it co-stars Shelley Long who, having starred in Cheers, must be good for something. Well, OK, maybe not high hopes, but some hopes that I’d enjoy this film, but alas even those hopes were too high. I understand now why ASDA were recently flogging this DVD for £3. It’s not that it’s a terribly bad film, it’s just confused, contrived and desperately unfunny, which considering it’s an 80s comedy, makes it something of a failure.
Hanks is Walter Fielding who, along with his partner Anna (Long), find themselves in desperate need of a place to live after a series of silly and easily avoidable plot points. When they discover an astoundingly cheap yet extravagant mansion, they buy it with an almost reckless abandon, despite the inevitability of it collapsing upon them. Needless to say, everything that can go wrong with the house does.
My main problem with the film is that at no point did I feel sorry for the two leads. I’m a home-owner, and have had a fair few problems with my flat, but unlike Walter and Anna, I didn’t have a wealthy employer/ex-spouse or client who would pay for everything, as is what happens here. Other than having to live in a building site for an extended period of time, the two don’t really have any long term problems, other than each other.
Also, the film is decidedly short on laughs. There were some farcical moments – the bathtub falling through the floor and Hanks getting stuck in the floorboards – that were a bit humorous, but mostly the film tried too hard and came up with nothing. One sequence involved Hanks in a ridiculous chain reaction involving a moved plank, circular saw, pit of wet cement and collapsing scaffolding. The setup can be seen a mile away, and the scene offers almost no payoff. It looks like Walter is about to be ousted as a KKK member when a black builder spots him on the roof dressed head-to-toe in white and wearing a hood, but no, the cement all gets washed off in a fountain, so there isn’t even any chance for him to become a kind of living statue. So many opportunities were missed for greater comedy, and there’s very little else that sticks in my memory about the film.
When Joe Mantegna pops up as a building contractor my hopes picked up, but then he never came back again, so I was deprived of getting to watch Fat Tony as well as listen to him Even if you’re a Hanks fan and have a desire to watch everything he’s been in I still wouldn’t recommend this film, as though he has great comic timing and can pratfall like the best of them, even he can’t make this film watchable. Avoid.
Choose life 3/10