Maybe it’s the way he makes it sound like he’s forgotten his lines every time his talks. Maybe it’s his unplaceable southern drawl that sounds like no other accent you’ve ever heard before. Maybe it’s just how despite the fact that his hey-day was 60 years ago but I still do impersonations of him pretty regularly. Whatever it is, I love James Stewart. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t quote It’s a Wonderful Life at some point or another just because Jimmy Stewart is one of the few actors I can do a consistently decent impersonation of. So, I was obviously pretty excited to get to my first James Stewart film for this list, and while this film wasn’t perfect or even great, it was a pretty hilarious and early take on the dysfunctional family picture.
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation is a film told in flashback, as it begins with Roger Hobbs (James Stewart) dictating to his assistant a suicide note that he apparently plans on writing after a particularly disastrous family vacation. Roger is in his late 50’s or early 60’s if I had to guess. This is an aging Jimmy Stewart, although Roger still has two kids who are old enough to live at home, his youngest child Danny who does nothing but watch television and his typical teenage daughter Katy who is acting out because she has to wear braces. He also has two grown daughters who have kids of their own. Roger and his wife Peggy (the beautiful for her age Maureen O’Hara) decide to take a family vacation at a completely run-down summer home on the beach and bring the entire family along. Needless to say, the vacation does not go well.
James Stewart is an absolute blast as the curmudgeonly titular Mr. Hobbs. His very effective dry wit is put to great use here. He had me cracking up half the time with things I’m not even sure were intended to be all that funny. There’s just something about the way he talks and carries himself that always makes me ready to laugh. There was one scene in the film that was just hysterical. The Hobbs have a pair of guests staying the night that they need to impress in order to help one of the son-in-law’s land a job. However, Mr. Hobbs ends up getting locked in the bathroom with the naked wife (no actual nudity on screen), and hilarity ensues. This is a film that proves that you don’t need obscenity, nudity, or gross-out humor to succeed in getting laughs (not that those things are bad).
The movie is far from perfect. Certain scenes feel like they drag on absolutely forever, and the scene in which Roger and his son get lost at sea definitely could have used some editing. Honestly, the film could probably have lost about a half hour of its length and been far the better for it. So, while the film definitely isn’t the best comedy I’ve watched for this blog, I enjoyed it quite a bit. If you’re a fan of old family comedies or Jimmy Stewart, you should definitely give this one a view. I think you’ll have a better time than the Hobbs had on their vacation.
Final Score: B