Recently, I ran across a list of the Top 10 Home Improvement Movies at Charles and Hudson, and being a home improvement guy and movie buff, I disagreed with some of their selections and rankings. So I came up with my own list—the real list. And to prove to both Charles & Hudson (if those are your real names), I’ve got a poll here where you can cast your vote.
So take a read through this list, then use the link above to check out the competition, then cast your vote. Be honest—this is for posterity (read: my ego).
ServiceMagic’s Top 10 Home Improvement Movies
10. Life as a House (2001)—I know what you’re thinking: 1. Hayden Christensen ruined Star Wars for everyone, and 2. you should never watch a Kevin Kline movie unless he has a moustache (look it up, it’s true). But this is Hayden pre-ruining the Lucas Empire, and he was pretty amazing. Kline’s character has cancer and wants to rebuild a beach house with his son (Hayden) while they live in it as a pseudo-dying wish. Message: home improvement cures cancer (not really, I’m pretty sure Kline still dies at the end).
9. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)—Study the subconscious here. This film is an indulgent daydream, and what do we truly seek in our dreams: a better home than the one we have. Certainly, we also want that home to be in Tuscany. Check the metaphor: once she gets her house back in order, she finds true love. Of course I just threw up in my mouth after writing that.
8. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)—I’ll admit it right up front, I haven’t seen it, but I feel like we’re always supposed to say that older movies are so much better than movies today. I did read the synopsis, though, and it seems like Mr. Blandings (Cary Grant) bought a lemon of a house in Connecticut without using a home inspector and then had to build another one in its stead. The “another one” being his dream house. This does sound pretty Bland. I may never see it.
7. Mr. Mom (1983)—Michael Keaton just really used to be the man. Not sure where he went, but back in the Mr. Mom days, Keaton had no problem switching perceived gender roles and bringing the funny without going in drag. The 80s were so…what we think the new millennium is now. Or the 90s were then. Keaton starts building an addition to impress his wife’s boss, because everyone knows that the litmus test for being frickin impressive is doing your own handy work. Nuf said. Favorite line: “220, 221, whatever it takes.”
6. Hope Floats (1998)—I guess this is the one Rom-Com on the list, though I don’t think anyone laughed with this one. Harry Connick, Jr.’s Justin architected and is building his own house, which is the point where Sandra Bullock’s Birdee starts to take a second look at Justin. Then she woke up wearing his shirt. (Score one for the house.) Plus, if you can romanticize hardwood flooring planks, clearly you had us at tongue-and-groove.
5. Karate Kid (1984)—This can often be characterized as exploitive child labor instead of home improvement, since Miyagi stops making him work on his house once he turns 16. But the point here is clear: through smart, home maintenance, we can defeat the bully and get the girl. So everyone remember, paint your house, fence, and deck every few years. Or make some neighbor kid do it.
4. Money Pit (1986)—I know what you’re thinking, this is everyone’s top choice for best home improvement movie. I hear you, and home improvement is absolutely more prominent in this film than the others on the list. The others use the wisdom of home improvement to grow their characters and not, as with Money Pit, as the test itself. The reason Money Pit doesn’t crack the top 3? Two words: Shelley Long. She was the albatross on “Cheers” and she didn’t do Money Pit any favors either. If it wasn’t for Long, Hanks might have another Oscar.
3. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)—You can’t really have a movie list without one that has a montage. While it might be a stretch that this is home improvement in the typical sense, it is a home to these well-meaning, socially-awkward brainiacs. Once again, we are seeing that people can really rally around making a (fraternity) house a home. Bear in mind, homeowners, that painting and refurbishing a house takes longer than four minutes, although you can set it to music no matter how long it takes.
2. Notebook (2004)—Rachel McAdams is so fine, she makes me want to get a job. Seriously, if you want to win the heart of someone like McAdams, you can’t just be a good looking dude; you have to do something extraordinary. And there’s nothing more extraordinary than remodeling a house that looked fit for the graveyard just to please your woman. In the end, McAdams’ character goes crazy, but the man who revived the 200-year-old home is still sharp as a tack. Coincidence?
1. Multiplicity (1996)—Coming in the number one slot is everyone’s favorite movie to forget, Multiplicity. Granted, you can skip the first 30 minutes of this movie and really not miss a thing, but once they start cloning Keaton—the Silver Screen King of Home Improvement—this movie remodels itself quickly into a home improvement classic. In the end, all four Keaton characters—and an unaware Eugene Levy—remodel their Craftsman home because his wife, Andie MacDowell, says he doesn’t fix things. And here again we see that home improvement saves the day. And the marriage. Not to mention that the copy of the copy of Keaton might be one of the funniest characters of all time.
Clearly, home improvement is a natural vehicle in film for change: it makes people fall in love, beat cancer (sorta), fix marriages, best the bully, and bring the Jock fraternity to its knees. Makes you wonder why we don’t have more movies about home improvement.
This article was written by Matt Myers. We asked him not to, told him to stop it, gave him the day off, and it still made its way onto the blog. Our bad.