Judge Patrick Naugle needs a vacation.
They're going to need a vacation from their vacation.
Roger Hobbs (Jimmy Stewart, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) is a successful but overworked banker who decides to take a relaxing vacation with his wife Peggy (Maureen O'Hara, The Parent Trap) and extended family. Their destination: a cozy seaside cottage where everyone can unwind and enjoy a bit of the good life. Unfortunately, poor Mr. Hobbs quickly discovers that R&R is the last thing on his schedule. Upon arriving at the cabin he realizes that it's in a state of disrepair, with nosy neighbors and a curvaceous sunbather with eyes for poor Roger Hobbs. More complications arise: his young son Danny is glued to television, his youngest daughter Katey (Laurie Peters, For Love of Ivy) is so embarrassed by her new braces that she refuses to leave the house, and his two oldest daughters (and their husbands, including Enter the Dragon's John Saxon) are having marital issues that bleed over into Roger's time of relaxation. It's up to Roger to help everyone figure out their personal, or he'll never get any peace and quiet on his vacation!
Jimmy Stewart had one of the best, most affable onscreen personalities in Hollywood. Stewart excelled at playing an everyman, a stammering version of the average Joe who was relatable to most moviegoers. Stewart possessed a laid back quality that made his acting seem shockingly effortless. Stewart was a natural on-screen, from classics like It's a Wonderful Life to lesser known fare, like 1962's Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation. Directed by Henry Koster (The Virgin Queen), this could been seen as the grandfather of all those disastrous vacation movies studios have been churning out since…well, since around the time Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation was released. Made during one of the ebbs in Stewart's varied and very successful career, this one is light as a feather but enjoyable nonetheless.
Based on the popular book by Edward Streeter, best known for his novel Father of the Bride, which itself was adapted in two films: with Spencer Tracy in 1950, and with Steve Martin in 1991. Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a distant cousin to the 1980 Chevy Chase vehicle National Lampoon's Vacation. Both films deal with families trying to have a relaxing, non-eventful vacation, which eventually goes haywire in the most comedic ways possible. Much like Clark Griswald and his crew, Mr. Hobbs makes a valiant attempt to give his family a memorable vacation, and he seems to fail every step of the way. A film like this speaks to anyone who has ever valiantly attempted to put together some kind of event for recharging your batteries, and failed miserably every step of the way.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a film with a plot that is basically an afterthought to the characters and their reactions to their surroundings (and each other). The house they rent has a pump that likes to start and stop at will, as if it's possessed. Family members enter the picture, bickering and breaking things like bulls in a China shop. At one point Hobbs and his son head out on a boat ride and find themselves almost run over half a dozen times, then get lost in a tick oceanic fog. Adhering to the clichés of the genre, this is basically Hobbs and his family encountering one set back after another, until they finally come to realize what the most important thing in life really is: rare Peruvian blood diamonds. Just kidding…it's family.
Jimmy Stewart as Roger Hobbs seems to be having a lot of fun in as a man who sometimes comes close to the breaking point with his kooky extended family and in-laws. Although the dialogue isn't what I'd consider extraordinarily sharp or crackling (written by the prolific Nunnally Johnson, who also wrote John Huston's 1940 classic The Grapes of Wrath), Stewart is able to give even the most mediocre of zingers an entertaining spin (when he sees a short, nerdy kid dancing with his daughter he quips, "Holy Moses, this one's a Pygmy…a white Pygmy!"). Stewart is complimented by the attractive red haired Maureen O'Hara as his patient, doting wife (were there any other kids in the 1960s?) who tries to clam his nerves while placating to the rest of the family. Other family members pop in and out to varying degrees (including a minor appearance by John Saxon as Roger's stud son-in-law, and Lauri Peters as Hobbs' geeky daughter), but the focus of the film is really O'Hara and Stewart and their attempts to survive a vacation that will require a second getaway for decompression.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a rather lighthearted comedy, never offensive, filled with some light laughs, and easily digestible. It's a very pleasant film, which is to say it won't linger on your mind for very long but it also won't be a film you regret seeing. In Stewart's cannon of films, it's not as well loved as some of the actor's more acclaimed works. Yet the film has a rather gentle spirit which makes it an airy, silly family friendly movie.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (Blu-ray) is presented in 2.35:1/1080p HD widescreen and looks fantastic. Twilight Time has taken this Fox catalog titled and brushed it up to look new again. The colors are bright and sunny and the black levels are dark and solid. Fans of this Jimmy Stewart classic will be thrilled with how nice this image looks. The DTS-HD 1.0 Master Audio track for this dialogue driven comedy doesn't offer a whole lot. While there are a few nice music cues to be found here, it's a very front heavy mix.
The only bonus features are an isolated score track, a short "Movietone Newsreel", and the film's theatrical trailer.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is good natured fun featuring a blustering, amusingly funny Jimmy Stewart. Although the film hasn't aged particularly well (and isn't half as funny as it might have been fifty years ago), it's still a worthwhile comedy to spend a few hours with.
A cute little romp with a very likable Jimmy Stewart.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Twilight Time
• Isolated Score
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