The summer of 1992 was a big one. Summer ’92 saw the presidential race heat up, and Barcelona hosting the Olympic games. This was also the summer Whoopi Goldberg became a nun, where there was no crying in baseball, and when Batman returned to the big screen.
But there’s also a little romantic comedy from this time that always gets forgotten: “Housesitter.”
“Housesitter” was directed by Frank Oz, and starred Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. Martin plays Newton Davis, a Boston architect who has designed his dream house and in the opening credits asks his childhood sweetheart Becky (Dana Delaney) to marry him. She says no, and monthes later the heartbroken Newt tells everything to a waitress named Gwen (Goldie Hawn).
Learning that the house Newton designed is sitting empty in a quaint little New England town, Gwen goes there and introduces herself around town as Newt’s wife. She also moves into the house and furnishes the place, on credit and in Newton’s name. Weeks go by before Newt returns to the town and discover Gwen’s deception. But by then, Gwen has succeeded in making friends of Newt’s parents and his former love, Becky.
However, Newton immediately goes with the flow to get what he wants: a promotion at work, and to win back the love of Dana Delaney’s Becky. Gwen agrees to help him, an in exchange she gets to stay in the house. The two pretend they are married, then stage a phony divorce in front of the entire town. But of course, things don’t go quite as planned.
A movie like this shouldn’t work because both of these characters are lying most of the time. It’s hard to root for characters who are deceiving so many other people deliberately. But watching “Housesitter” in the theater, I got it. Newt and Gwen both want something, and working together might be the only way the each achieve their goals.
But what made the film work, was the great work of Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. The two actors have great chemistry together and their one on one scenes are some of the film’s best. There are some great verbal fights between the two. Martin and Hawn also have one of the funniest scenes with the a reverend Newt’s parents bring by to help with their relationship “troubles.”
Goldie Hawn also delivers with some epic facial expressions throughout the film. Wheter its at the Budapest restaurant, or when she finds her fake parents, or when she tells Becky the story of how her and Newton “met.” Hawn’s meeting Newtons parents for the first time was also pretty epic, and sweet at the same time.
Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are helped by an excellent supporting cast. Dana Delaney, Donald Moffat and Julie Harris as Newt’s parents, and by Richard B. Shull and Laurel Cronin (a homeless couple who are pressed into service as Gwen’s parents), all deliver wonderful performances.
what I also liked about the cast, was that each supporting character had something to do. By the time the film ends, each of them has played a part in some way shape or form in the main plot.
The final reason I enjoy “Housesitter” is because it was shot in my home state. The town scenes were shot in Cohasset and Concord, Massachusetts, two places I’ve been too mutltiple times over the years. Each summer I would go to multiple concerts and shows at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset.
The scenes in downtown Boston were shot near where I would eventually go to art school, including the scenes featuring the Budapest restaurant. The restaurant you see in the film, was an actual restaurant near the Prudential Center area. Although I don’t remember if the restaurant was named the Budapest or not, it was still there while as I going to school. I remember when it was announced it was closing, it was a big story because the restaurant had been around for quite some time.
“Housesitter” is just a sweet and funny movie, with a rather innovative premise. I wish more people would give this movie a shot because it really is a wonderful little comedy. The setting, and the town people, and the performances from Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, all combine to make this one of the few romantic comedies I can honestly say I love.