There’s a 20-minute period towards the middle of the film where The Money Pit lives up to its slapstick potential, and it’s the hardest I’ve laughed in eons. Tom Hanks and Shelley Long are subject to some of the most elaborate home destruction set pieces in modern cinema history. The comedy is amped by the slow gestation of these gags: The kitchen’s wiring doesn’t go bad all at once, it takes 90 agonizing seconds, making the punchline of a turkey shooting out of the oven all the more hysterical.
Towards the end of this segment, there’s a long take of Hanks and Long staring down at a bathtub that just collapsed through the floor as Hanks gives an unhinged cackle. It’s a terrific moment, the movie acknowledging the sheer anarchy of what it has just subject its viewers to.
Unfortunately, that stretch is not only the best part of the movie, it’s pretty much the only good part. The first act spends too long getting us to the self-destructing house; the third act centers around some real dour relationship drama where Long’s character cheats on Hanks’, perhaps linked to a quid-pro-quo where the ex provides some portion of the house down payment. The movie has too much filler and too many tone shifts — if it had extended that central bit of house destruction out with montages and some breathing room in between, The Money Pit could have been a boneheaded comedy gem.
At least the leads are charming. Hanks is charismatic as ever and Long is pretty much playing the same character she did on Cheers. They keep the movie afloat even as it drifts cluelessly away from the reason any of us are watching this in the first place: the gradual slapstick destruction of a beautiful mansion we can’t afford.
- Review Project: Tom Hanks Retrospective
Not Very Good (3/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.