Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stop calling me Hulot!

If you ever wondered whether James Stewart could do family comedy, you can have your question answered tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM on the Fox Movie Channel, when they're showing Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. The answer? He's not that bad.

Stewart stars as Mr. Hobbs, a businessman with two younger children and two married daughters who would like to get away for a quiet vacation with Mrs. Hobbs (Maureen O'Hara). She, however, has other ideas: with all of the children getting older and two already out of the house, she'd like the opportunity for one more family vacation. So, she's rented a nice house out on the beach that's big enough to hold the whole family. Only, the house turns out not to be so nice, like the original house Mr. Blandings bought and had to tear down so that he could build his dream house. Further, the kids aren't so sure they want to be there. The young boy would rather be watching TV; the young daughter is a teenager and has teen things to think about; and the two daughters have different problems in their marriages. So it's clear that this isn't going to be the vacation any of them had expected.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a moderately good movie whose biggest problems, I think, are with the script. The thing is that the material in the movie is the sort of stuff we've seen in any of a dozen other movies. Parts of the family relationship seem straight out of the Andy Hardy movies, while other parts of the movie have their feet in the "generation gap" movies of the 1960s. As an example, singer Fabian is brought in to play boyfriend to the youngest of the three daughters, and by the time this movie was made in 1962 Fabian was way past his peak as a singer -- and not much of an actor. Still, Stewart is good enough with comedy like this, while O'Hara does well playing the center of the family's emotional stability.

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