Tom Hanks, early in his career, featured mostly in light, family dramedies (Turner and Hooch, Big, Splash) until the mid 90s from when he made a dramatic shift in choosing the kind of roles (Philadelphia, Saving Private Ryan, Green Mile). The Money Pit is the typical early Hanks venture – strangely themed, narrowly plotted, mildly romantic, occasionally slapstick comedy that provides a decent Sunday afternoon viewing.
Anna and Walter, a nice young couple, buy a big house from an old, grieving lady who is desperate for money. Since Anna’s ex-husband, an egoistic conductor, just returns from his European tour to evict them from his house, the couple immediately settle for the buy. They move in only to find that the house is falling apart on every hammer-stroke or even a pin-drop. They stick together in the madness, live through the rubble, trying to repair it.
A plot so thin could bore you at times if the film doesn’t offer solid performances and situational comedies. But Hanks’s hysterical laughs, screwball demeanor, and funny one-liners, and wild gags carry it beautifully till the end along with Shelley Long’s moderation in over-the-top scenes.
Films such as Mousehunt, Madhouse involve the house-destruction theme in which the menace is due to an intruder like a rat or an evil neighbor. But The Money Pit shows a house that’s far more suicidal in itself than a fragile human being. However fragile it seems, what matters is how strong the foundation is just as how firm someone’s basic faith is.