The Money Pit

Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Tom Hanks” with a minor in “Obnoxious Laughter”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!

This week Supercult buys stock in Lowes and Home Depot after watching the fiasco that is The Money Pit!

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Walter Fielding and his girlfriend Anna Crowley are suddenly in need of a new home when Anna’s ex-husband and landlord kicks the couple out of their apartment. What they find is a suspiciously underpriced country estate. A fixer-upper you might say! But their simple troubles soon turn into a full-blown nightmare when their new home begins falling apart at the seams! Can the couple repair the house and their flagging relationship? If they’ve got what it takes, it’ll take everything they’ve got. It’s the Money Pit!

Released in 1986, The Money Pit is an American Rom/Com directed by actor turned director Richard Benjamin, who you might remember as the character Peter Martin from Supercult Classic, Westworld. Believe it or not, Money Pit is actually a remake of the 1948 film Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, and the concept would be rehashed once again in 2007 with the film Are We Done Yet? So it’s fair to say that the story concept at least was solid enough to warrant another go. Money Pit also features a prominent cast in the up and coming star Tom Hanks, as Walter, and the well-established TV star, Shelley Long. For Tom Hanks it was a mere 2 years after his breakout role in Splash and 2 years prior his iconic role in Big, while Shelley had already put 4 years into the critically acclaimed TV phenomenon, Cheers. On top of all that Steven Spielberg was producing! Experienced director, established story, rockin’ cast, and mother flippin’ Steven Spielberg! What could possibly go wrong??

Well, it could be flat out boring, that’s what. The Money Pit’s central premise revolves around the house gradually and hilariously falling apart around the hapless couple, but there’s only so many sight gags of doors falling of their hinges, electrical wiring catching on fire, and flooring collapsing before the laughter of the audience dissolves into groans and finally snores. Roger Ebert calls Money Pit “a movie that contains one funny scene and 91 minutes of running time to kill” and he’s not far off the mark. There’s an old rule of comedy that says that in slapstick the more intelligent the victim the funnier the gag is. Unfortunately Walter and Anna are so naïve and inept at keeping their lives together that our only response is to throw up our hands in defeat and ambivalence. Not even the side characters like the conniving contractors, the ex-husband Max Beissart played by the appropriately haughty looking Russian-American ballet dancer, Alexander Godunov can save the film from its own repetitive blandness.

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The only good thing about the film was, surprisingly, the train wreck of a house. The house is demolished with such flair and creativity, even going so far as to construct a nearly 3 minute long Rube Goldberg slapstick chain reaction that culminates with Tom Hanks being pissed on by a cherub fountain, that it’s hard not to tip your hat to the writers and practical effects crew. The house itself was owned by the Ridder family in real life and was on the market to be sold when the movie was shooting. Mrs. Ridder was apparently shocked to see her home being systematically and elaborately demolished, but director Richard Benjamin somehow persuaded her to appear in the movie’s closing scenes in spite of everything.

The Money Pit received mixed reviews upon release. Many critics responded well to the performances of the two leads, especially Hanks, and accepted the humor for what it was while others were not impressed. Variety called it “gruesomely unfunny” and noted that most scenes “begin with something or other caving in…followed by the two leads yelling and screaming at each other for minutes on end.” The Money Pit has a 6.3 on IMDB and a 47% on Rotten Tomatoes, but love it or hate it you can’t argue with the fact that it raked in nearly $40 million on a budget of just $10 million.

For everyone who’s ever been deeply in Love, deeply in debt, or just plain wants to watch a house blow up in interesting ways…

The Supercult show is proud to present, the Money Pit!

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