For this month’s next review for Genre Grandeur – Family Vacation Movies, here’s a review of Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation (1962) by Emily of The Flapper Dame
Next month’s genre has been chosen by Darren Lucas of Movie Reviews 101 and we will be reviewing our favorite New York Films That Take Place Prior to 9/11.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Sep by sending them to pre9-11NYCDarren@movierob.net
Try to think out of the box!
Let’s see what Emily thought of this movie:
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a 1962 family comedy from 20th Century Fox Studios. Directed by Henry Koster and starring Maureen O’Hara and James Stewart in the leads as Roger and Peggy Hobbs, it tells the story of the Hobbs family who rent a beach house for the summer. Although none of the kids want to go, and the beach house is dilapidated, what matters is the family finds time to sort out the problems and just bond together. Comedy ensures with wacky situations and the ensemble cast.
On paper it sounds like Mr. Hobbs would be an all time family classic, however, I personally believe this movie suffers from poorly placed jokes, lengthy unfunny gimmicks, and a really terrible script. On top of that, there are also unfunny/ borderline annoying characters, slow pacing, and its rounded out by a terribly long drawn out sequence of Jimmy Stewart on a bird watching trip.
I can’t say that I love this movie, although I do love both Maureen O’Hara and Jimmy Stewart, both of whom made other wonderful family comedies throughout their careers; for instance, Maureen did The Parent Trap (1961) and Jimmy did Shenandoah (1965). According to Maureen O’Hara in her 2004 memoir Tis’ Herself she didn’t exactly enjoy working with Mr. Stewart: they got along personally- just not professionally.
The main reason I can’t get into this movie is there are way too many gags and gimmicks. The TV breaks down, the plumbing needs fixing, there are bratty kids and grandkids, bad parenting/ lack of parenting- and it’s just really irritating to watch. I found myself fast forwarding through the plumbing gag, and found it unfunny whenever the grandkids would have a scene. There is no charm to balance out the problems and it gets really old really fast
Secondly, you don’t believe these actors are a family. Sure, I believe Jimmy and Maureen are married, but I don’t believe any of these kids (including Lili Gentle and Natalie Trundy) have natural screen chemistry with them. It’s not like Yours, Mine, and Ours (1968) where you believe these kids know each other as brothers and sisters. I’m not blaming the kid actors, most of which didn’t stay in acting, more so the script writers for failing to give then some likability as characters and familiarity as siblings.
But on the flip side, there are a few appealing aspects to this movie- Maureen and Jimmy for one, like I mentioned. There is also a really cute scene in which youngest daughter Katey (Lauri Peters) gets to sing with Joe (Fabian) at the teen dance. It’s a sweet scene in which she smiles despite newly having braces, and it’s cute to watch. There is also a fun scene with Mr. Hobbs and his son, Danny (Michael Burns) sailing after the tv breaks. It’s a pure example of how awesome Jimmy Stewart is at playing father roles, even if you don’t believe the actor could really be his son; Jimmy was just great with kids in general and its touching.
Overall, Mr Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a product of its era. If you really dig 1960’s sitcoms then you’ll enjoy this movie thoroughly. It’s two leads are the main reason to take a watch, its full of early 60’s style- and Fabian singing never hurts anyone!