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Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Review


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By the time Cary Grant took on the role of Jim Blandings, the hapless hero of this would-be screwball comedy about the perils of home ownership, he no longer had to prove himself as a great comic actor. His charm-school looks and exacting sense of timing propelled three of the finest comedies from Hollywood's golden age -- Bringing Up Baby (1938), His Girl Friday (1940), and The Philadelphia Story (1940) -- but here he doesn't seem particularly compelled to top himself. The script doesn't light much of a fire under him either. What makes those three earlier movies so enduring is their speed -- the way the jokes keep coming, and the way Grant and his cohorts keep knocking them out of the park -- and Dream House is built out of much weaker material.

Grant plays Blandings, a Manhattan advertising executive who lives in a too-small apartment with his wife Muriel (Myrna Loy), their two children, and a maid. After a clunky opening sequence that oversells just how tightly packed everybody is, the Blandings go house-hunting in Connecticut, where they fall for a large house on an estate of rolling hills. They've rushed into things, though: the broker mischaracterized the size of the property and the state of the home, which is beyond repair and needs to be torn down. The idea of the Blandings setting off to build a brand-new house initially seems like solid comic fodder, but there really aren't too many jokes to tell within the setup - most revolve around the ever-escalating construction tab, and shots of Grant making outraged noises and widening his eyes get old fast. Jim's lawyer friend Bill Cole (Melvyn Douglas) is a decent straight man, but he's also hooked into a go-nowhere infidelity subplot that drags down an already sluggish film.

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