Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Movie Review - Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation

In my movie reviews, I give my brief thoughts on what I watched. Sometimes I will expound on those thoughts, but more often than not, I will just give a brief opinion. You can read plot descriptions on Internet Movie Database or on Amazon.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Starring Jimmy Stewart, Maureen O'Hara, Fabian, Laurie Peters. 1962.

If It's a Wonderful Life has a sequel, then that sequel is Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.

During his career, Stewart played the main characters in three “Mr.” films. The first was Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), and the second was Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962), which is about the changing family dynamic as children grow up. In the third, Mr. Krueger’s Christmas (1988), Stewart plays a lonely janitor who finds the true meaning of Christmas.

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is full of references to It’s a Wonderful Life. There are so many of these references, that the film is almost an homage to the classic, or a sequel that looks at the question, “what happened next to the Bailey family?” While the film concerns the Hobbs family, and not the Baileys, the connections are still there.

Mr. Hobbs and George Bailey both have daughters named Janie. Another daughter is named Suzie. While not an exact match, the similarity to the name Zuzu is close enough to make one pause to consider the connection.

The Hobbs family vacations together at a beach house during a trip that Mrs. Hobbs (Maureen O’Hara) calls the “chance of a lifetime,” echoing Sam Wainwright’s claim about the job he offers George in It’s a Wonderful Life. However, they find that the beach house is not as nice as they expected it to be. In fact, the Hobbs family finds a house that is dirty, run-down, and appears to be haunted, reminiscent of the Granville House after the graduation dance at the high school.

The house even has a mansard roof and a troublesome newel post, which served in It’s a Wonderful Life as both a tool to break the tension of several scenes, and as a symbol of George Bailey’s growing frustration. In Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, the newel post is a light-hearted tribute to the older film. The joke is extended when Mr. Hobbs attempts to climb the stairs and one of the steps breaks.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, just before Sam Wainwright offers George the job, Sam tells him of an idea for a factory that he wants to build in Rochester, New York. In Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, Mr. Hobbs tells his down-on-his-luck, unemployed son-in-law to look for a job in Rochester.

During a social event at a yacht club, Mr. and Mrs. Hobbs become concerned about their youngest daughter Katey (Lauri Peters). Mr. Hobbs becomes so concerned that his wife becomes worried about him. He tells her, “Don’t worry. I’m not gonna’ jump.” This is a reference George Bailey’s perceived solution to his funding shortage problem in It’s a Wonderful Life.

Mr. Hobbs remedies his daughter’s problems by hiring a dance partner for her. It is a move that causes his wife to berate him for “giving $5 to some guy you don’t know from Adam.” The statement echoes Nick, the bartender at Martini’s bar during the Pottersville sequence, who says he doesn’t know George “from Adam’s off ox.”

Mr. Hobbs goes bird watching with a visitor to the summer home. Every time he sees a bird, he asks what kind it is, only to learn that it is always the same species. Every time he sees the bird, thinking it is a new species, he comments, “well, what do you know about that,” which is one of George Bailey’s favorite phrases.

Mr. Hobbs is more cynical than George Bailey, but the children are older. He looks through travel brochures for the Caribbean, France, Britain, and Hawaii. This reminds one of the travel brochures George Bailey carries with him.

In a connection that hits closer to real life, Mr. Hobbs refers to being buried in Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery. In real life, Stewart is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in Los Angeles, CA. There is a real Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, CA.

4 out of 5 stars.

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