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20th Century Fox presents
Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962)

Peggy: Well, we haven't kept in close touch with our children. We haven't actually shared with them in all their problems and pleasures.
Roger: Honey, I don't know about that. All I know is that Katey doesn't need me, and Susie doesn't need me, and Janie doesn't need me. Danny only needs me to pick up a copy of Playboy for him every month.

- Maureen O'Hara, James Stewart

Review By: Nate Meyers   
Published: September 15, 2005

Stars: James Stewart, Maureen O'Hara
Other Stars: Fabian, Lauri Peters, Lili Gentle, John Saxon, John McGiver, Marie Wilson, Reginald Gardiner, Valerie Varda, Natalie Trundy, Josh Peine, Michael Burns, Peter Oliphant
Director: Henry Koster

Manufacturer: PDMC
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some thematic material, brief mild language)
Run Time: 01h:56m:34s
Release Date: September 06, 2005
UPC: 024543190936
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-BB- D-

DVD Review

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation, starring the legendary James Stewart, is a gentle family comedy that plays today like Hollywood's goodbye wave to the 1950s perception of family.

Roger Hobbs (Stewart) is a St. Louis banker married to the beautiful Peggy (Maureen O'Hara). His family life is far from ideal, with son Danny (Michael Burns) spending all day watching television and youngest daughter Katey (Lauri Peters) sulking about her new braces. Roger needs a break from the rat race and a month-long vacation where he and Peggy can duck away appeals to him, but Peggy wants to salvage relations with the whole family. Thus, Roger finds himself spending a month with not only his two youngest children, but also his two older daughters and their families.

Henry Koster's direction handles the material lightly by today's standards, but back in 1962 this may very well have played out like Greg Focker's pains in Meet the Parents. Hitting the beach, the Hobbs family rents a house that belongs more to Norman Bates' state-of-mind than anything else. Roger struggles in the remote location, having to fidget with outdated plumbing as well as a vexing local, Reggie (Reginald Gardiner). When daughter Susie (Natalie Trundy) arrives, things only became more exacerbated by her psychological parenting techniques that do not permit her to discipline her rambunctious son, Peter (Peter Oliphant). Between Peter's temper tantrums, a seductive Swedish babe (Valeria Varda), and his inability to sit down and enjoy Tolstoy's War and Peace, Roger soon finds himself needing a vacation from his vacation.

The story, based on a novel by Father of the Bride author Edward Streeter, is far from original and many of the set pieces will come across as forced. A sequence in which Roger and Danny get lost at sea goes on for too long and a musical number of Henry Mancini's Cream Puff severely dates the film. On the other hand, each of the performers is genuine in their role and bring a surprisingly enjoyable component to the movie. A scene in which Roger bribes the local boys to dance with Katey is a tender, sweet moment that rarely appears in today's "family comedies."

The notion of family in Mr. Hobbs may be out of favor in today's go-go world, as is its "harsh" language (nothing is more comical than hearing Stewart use "darn it" as an incendiary device), but there's something special about a movie that pushes the idea of a family as the foundation for society. Stewart and O'Hara are effective in their roles, with this being one of the few times I truly believe that a movie husband and wife actually love one another. Additionally, Stewart uses his long limbs for some funny sight gags, such as his bird-spotting march. Even Fabian (playing Katey's love interest, Joe) provides some good laughs, especially when he grows a beard that is begging to be shaved.

While the movie is far from realistic, it still works as a light Hollywood comedy. The CinemaScope images and Mancini's score properly place it in its context of early 1960s America. The 21st century's cynicism is completely absent, which is more than enough reason to sit down with the kids and watch the Hobbs family on vacation.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 2.35:1 anamorphic RSDL transfer is fairly clean and sharp. The detail is largely impressive, though some long shots don't hold up as well as others. Shadow detail is excellent and the colors are adequate.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The original mono mix is the DVD's default audio setting, though you can easily access a Dolby Stereo 2.0 mix via your remote. I did not detect a single bit of difference between either mix, noticing no sound separation or rear-channel activity in the Stereo track even when played in Pro Logic. Both mixes are clean and dialogue is always audible. There also are French and Spanish mono mixes available.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring A Guide for the Married Man, Bedazzled, Bandolero!, Call Northside 777
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:57m:44s

Extras Review: Special features are limited, but the film's original theatrical trailer and four others (A Guide for the Married Man, Bedazzled, Bandolero!, and Call Northside 777) are provided. All but for Call Northside 777 are shown in anamorphic widescreen. In addition to the trailers, a reel of Fox Movietone News (01m:12s) shows the Minnesota Golden Gophers arriving in California to play in the Rose Bowl and getting to tour the set of Mr. Hobbs. Something tells this Minnesotan that the Gophers will only be returning home with Jimmy Stewart's autograph.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation serves as an enjoyable filler for an evening's entertainment. The picture and sound aren't anything special, nor are the extras, but the movie's gentle comedy is a rare thing these days.


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