MAN OF THE HOUSE (1995)
Ah, Man of the House, a film so memorable that no one had any compunctions about stealing its title for a movie about Tommy Lee Jones hanging out with cheerleaders only ten short years later. Directed by James Orr (abusive ex-boyfriend of star Farrah Fawcett) this film is almost entirely devoid of anything remotely interesting. Let’s scrape the bottom of this barrel!
Young Ben Archer (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) lives happily with his divorced mom, Sandy (Farrah Fawcett). They’re a happy little family of two who pick trash up off the beach and make collages with it.
But then Chevy Chase shows up to ruin everyone’s fun. He plays Jack Sturges, a man devoid of character traits, and he’s here to date/move in with/marry Ben’s mom. Catastrophe!
Ew. Creepy drawing.
Ben acts like a little prick and does everything in his power to make sure that Jack is miserable. Mostly this involves cockblocking his mom and making Jack sleep on a shitty cot.
Ugh, can I just turn this off and watch Vegas Vacation?
Then Ben gets the killer idea to torture Jack by going to a racist father son bonding camp with him. Ben is now “Little Wing” and Jack is “Squatting Dog.” Ha. Also, George Wendt is there.
Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your made-up Indian name.
Very very mild shenanigans occur. Then some criminals that Jack screwed over earlier show up to try to kill him (oh, yeah, I forgot to mention, Jack’s a lawyer, but it rarely comes up). They are thwarted by the Indian Guides.
With the help of some bees.
Eventually Jack finds some crap on the beach and finishes that collage I mentioned at the beginning. Ben realizes that it’ll be okay having him as part of the family after all. The End.
Honestly, I don’t know that there’s enough happening in this movie for there to be any subliminal themes lurking beneath the obvious. I think I might just have to take this film at face value: welcoming someone new into your family is tough, but if you try not to be a dick for two seconds, you might realize that they aren’t entirely shitty, and maybe they can help you with your ocean trash wall art.
Stepdads are cool. We get it. Movie over.
WHY DON’T PEOPLE LIKE IT?:
Almost nothing happens in this movie, and it happens very slowly. It kind of feels as though everyone clocked out after the film was cast. JTT will get the kids into the theater. Chevy Chase will bring the adults. George Wendt will appeal to the ardent Cheers fans. Farah Fawcett will excite… someone, presumably. Anyhow, these actors are thrown at the screen with nothing interesting to do or say. So I’m guessing that anyone they brought through the door wished they’d stayed outside.
“George Wendt rubbing his face on an orange looks interesting,” you might say.
But don’t be fooled. He’s having a really boring conversation right now.
- Ron Canada is in this movie, but doesn’t do anything.
MOST REGRETTABLE MOMENT:
This week’s Most Regrettable Moment lasts for most of the movie! Basically, the whole thing is riddled with cultural appropriation. So, the biggest plot thread the film has is Ben and Jack participating in the YMCA Indian Guide program. This is based on an actual program (since renamed the Adventures Guides) that, back in the 1920s, was founded with the help of Joe Friday, an Ojibway Indian. But however legitimate the organization’s origins may have been, in this movie it’s basically just a bunch of white guys hanging out while wearing beads and feathers.
Chevy Chase, good job making a movie that’s more awkward than Nothing But Trouble.
And hey, guess what, dressing up like a cultural or racial stereotype to spice up your office party/camping trip/Halloween isn’t cool. And the whole “dressing up like Indians” thing seems to be the only crutch this movie has as it stumbles along towards its dull conclusion. Even Jack and Sandy’s wedding is Indian-themed.
Squaw and Brave wedding cake toppers? Really, movie?
And Man of the House realizes that it’s being offensive, too. About halfway through, it introduces Leonard Red Crow (Chief Leonard George), a Native American character whose presence has no impact on the plot whatsoever. He’s simply there to give all the white people wearing feathers a thumbs-up and absolve them from any claims of racism. But I still call bullshit. This movie isn’t trying to promote Native American cultural ideals, it’s just trying to make a buck off of putting Chevy Chase in a headdress.
But if I had to pick the one worst moment, I’d go with the Indian Guides’ miserable rain dance, which is the whitest thing ever, and is set to “Everybody Dance Now.”
I think this pretty much speaks for itself.
Unbearably dull, with breaks for cultural appropriation-based antics. There is quite literally nothing to see here. Let’s go watch someone drop an elephant out of a plane.
Operation Dumbo Drop (1995)