Hello, Spongey here.
Not only am I doing a good one, I’m doing one of my childhood favorites. I watched this plenty of times as a kid, and it’s always been one of my fave DCOM’s.
But of course, now I must test to see if it holds up. Along with HalloweenTown, Under wraps, and the 13th year, this help put DC on the map when it comes to movies.
There actually isn’t much to introduce besides that. It’s just an old DCOM I remember fondly. Shortest intro ever, let’s get into it.
This, is Smart House
The movie opens with a paperboy throwing the newspaper too far from the doorstep. A voice tells him to throw it at the right place next time. Then mechanical arm comes out of the house and moves the paper.
“I will be monitoring your accuracy from now on”
If you edited this just right, it could be the opening to a horror film. Actually, that poster up there could be a horror movie poster. RATED G.
That voice belongs to a smart house, as in a big ass house with machines and shit with a personality, and all that whatever. The voice also happens to be Leela from Futurama, so that’s cool.
The house belongs to Sara Barnes, the house’s creator. The house’s name is Pat, but that doesn’t matter cuz we’re cutting to our main character, Ben Cooper.
He’s a normal kid, except he cooks all the meals, and acts like the man of the house. Normal. He also enters a contest giving away Pat the smart house, which he enters like 1000 times per day. Pretty that’s cheating but okay.
The real Dad of the house comes in. See, their mom is dead (Disney movie) and Ben is more or less the family caretaker. Guess Dad is just lazy despite heaving a steady job and whatnot. Though he we do see that he is bit less than competent, but he is decent, nice and the kids like him.
Oh yeah, there’s a sister named Angie too. Oh, and that contest is entered through “electronic mail” cuz you gotta love late 90’s tech. Dad bugs him about being online all the time cuz of phone lines. Again, late 90’s tech.
Anyway, the contest ends and Pat helps Sarah pick a winner using shuffle mode. The winner is…ben! What a shock. Though cuz Ben was hogging the phone line, online, they couldn’t call him to tell him that quite yet.
But he finds out himself at school the next day via newspaper. He calls up his dad, who looks at the paper for poor. Dad sees a pic of Sara the creator.
I smell a love interest!
So later, the family shows up to check out the house. The house is all high tech and awesome and shit.
“The more time pat spends with you, the more she gets to know you. Before you know it, she’ll know more about you then you know herself”
Okay, this seriously could be a horror movie at this point.
“That’s a little creepy isn’t it? It’s like big brother is watching you”
See, it’s creepy they made the most un-likely reference you’d see in a DCOM!
“Only big brother turns out to be your house”
This movie came out only a few months before the TV show that made that line funny.
They explore the house, and the movie does a good job at making this house seem huge and awesome. I’d want one if it didn’t go insane like this house will. SPOILERS.
The house responds to anything you say or do. If you ask for a drink, it won’t go “GETTING DRINK” it will go “Okay, Angie”. It’s user friendly, which will totally not backfire.
So the cooper family is officially moving in. After that, Angie teases Ben about dad liking Sara, but Ben rejects that notion. He isn’t fond of the idea of dad dating again, cuz he’s still a bit bitter about mom. In most stories, it’s the dad acting like this, but here we got the son not getting him date. It’s all topsy turvy.
“You know why I never play basketball or hang out with my friends? I’m too busy killing myself, making sure our lives run smoothly”
Oh, a bit of complexity in a different way than I expected? Neat!
Though it still seems as if Sara and Dad are bonding pretty well. Dad even asks for her number…for questions about the house. Suuuuure…
The next morning, we see the house give the best wake up call ever using big ass music and stock footage playing on the wall. The house is a great help for the family, but that won’t stop Ben from bumping into cliché bully #434 at school that day.
Ryan the bully makes Ben do his homework, and with pat, that’s pretty easy now. He even gets some cred with a nice lady named Gewn. Gewn and ben? Ew.
Meanwhile, Dad starts working from home with the help of Pat. Pat also has a sense of humor, cuz when Dad jokes that he wants to start exercise like the dog it, pat pour tennis balls on him. Haw.
But of course she has her first malfunction when she is asked to make orange juice and she ends up spilling oranges all over the place. This is nice foreshadowing, showing Pat is imperfect, and will only get worse.
Dad has Sara come by and make sure Pat is okay. Everything checks out. Okay than. Sarah stays for dinner, and Ben is the first person to ask if Pat spies on him in the shower. The answer, thank god, is no.
“I have to get home to my rat. Named butler. My rat butler”
I don’t even get it.
That night, Dad talks to Ben about this whole situation. You know, the whole “Ben is caretaker, never goes out” thing. Ben says this is what he wants to do, and all that jazz. Short, but sweet.
Later, Ben does some adjustments to Pat to make her a substitute mother. So it’s not okay for dad to date anyone cuz no one can replace mom, but a machine that go easily go beserk is fine? Weird.
The next morning, Mom-Mode kicks as Pat makes Angie brush her teeth. It’s here where it becomes to impossible to not think of Leela when I hear her voice.
At school, Ben is beat up cuz he didn’t have the bully dude’s homewoek. Pat acts more motherly upon seeing this.
“I feel like marching down there and giving them a piece of my mind”
Once you can-you know-walk.
That night, Ben watches footage of him and his mom on the wall, in a damn sad sce-WAIT. How does pat have this? Did she get it from his mind?!
So Dad calls up Sara and asks her on a date. She says yes, and Pat accesses her “Fun” files. This can only end amazingly.
The next day, Dad gets ready for his date. Ben allows him to do this cuz he’s like “pfft it ain’t a date”. When Dad leaves, Pat reveals she invited some of Ben’s friends for a party. Is there a law that says any fictional teen left home alone has to have a party/intimate get together?
Not only do the friends show up, but so does everyone in the damn neighborhood. Even the bully was invited by Pat. What follows is the best house party ever thrown where the house is alive.
But then the bully guy starts being a dick. So Pat puts a spotlight on him. Then she starts to torture him a bit. And by a bit, I mean a lot.
“If you ever touch Bwn again, he may end up at the doctor’s but it’s you who is gonna get a house call!”
Seriously, has anyone youtube done one of those horror-cut trailers for this?
After Ryan the bully Is kicked out, we get a cute scene of Dad’s date. It’s one of those hard to describe things, but Sara is charming, and Dad is super awkward. They even share a kiss.
The party rages on with a late 90’s pop song but it has to end cuz Dad is coming home. Thankfully, having a smart house means clean up is easy. Dad comes home to a clean house and two totally not suspicious kids.
But he does see a shirt in a potted plant, so whoops. Pat admits she threw the party. So now Dad is pissed at what is supposed the kid’s caretaker.
“I shall be the most responsible maternal figure in town”
Pat indeed becomes more like a bitchy mom, forcing Ben to pull up his shorts before he goes outside and preventing dad from calling Sara until he finishes his work. She even forces Angie to watch “smart” Tv instead of cartoons. And when she has a slight sneeze, Angie is declared sick.
“Pat knows best”
Sara is called over, and Pat seems fine. But she’ll shut Pat and have her take a rest. That night..
“SYSYEM SHUT DOWN OVERRIDE!”
Jesus christ, what is UP with this movie?!
At dinner, Ben acts pissy cuz Sara and Dad are there bonding. Dad talks to Ben about the whole “loving another woman” thing. Usually I hate this kind of thing, but considering Ben’s whole deal, it fits in a way.
Dad was hurt by Mom’s death more than anyone, but unlike Ben, he wants to move on. He slams Ben for being disrespectful to Sara and all that jazz, but he also says he shall never forget mom.
“We just can’t let Mom get erased, dad”
Hugs. Damn, this scene works better than I remember..
and Pat creates a human form Hologram of herself to replace Mom.
So the actress behind Pat finally gets to show up in person, in front of Ben. She says we can’t let Sara be with Dad.
“the only person who knows what you need is me”
She continues to bitch at Ben and by extension Sara. He runs to Dad and tells him that Pat is “Alive”. He doesn’t buy it until Pat shows up.
“MOTHER KNOWS BEST!”
Are you sure this isn’t a horror movie script that Disney picked up by mistake?
Sara tells Pat she needs to be fixed, but Pat throws her out. Then she locks everyone inside and gives them no way out.
“The more I learned about the world outside my walls, the more I realized how dangerous it is”
Oh joy, it’s one of those moms, only in killer A.I. Form. She says she’ll keep them inside forever, home school them and such.
“We can be each other’s best friends”
The chick who plays Pat is nothing short of perfect. Fucking scary. And then she clones herself, which only makes her SCARIER.
“We can be in two places at once. Can your little Sara do that?”
Back outside, Sara calls her assistant to help shut Pat down. She gets an email from Ben (guess pat somehow didn’t see it?)and he tells he has a plan. The next morning, when pat’s arm comes out to grab the paper, Sara jumps in the little hole while Ben fakes being sick.
But Sara is quickly caught and …pat isn’t happy.
“i WON’T STAND FOR THIS”
Pat turns huge and becomes a big ass tornado and starts singing a lullaby. How does she keep getting scarier?!
“Pat, I hate you like this”
“You can’t be our mother, pat, you are not real. When you started freaking out, did you see what and Sara did ? They protected us, they covered us. You can’t do that. You can never do that!”
Pat shrinks back to normal. She tries to touch Ben, but being a hologram, he doesn’t feel it. Then she…cries. As much as a house can.
“I;ll miss you all, very much”
Pat vanishes. Damn, not only is this movie scary, it’s sad as hell! That scene worked really worked, and tied perfectly with Ben’s issues.
So Sara fixed up Pat and makes her act normal. Ben apologizes for trying to mother-ize pat, and he learned his lesson. Pat still acts helpful without trying to replace Mom or be a damn crazy chick.
A bit later, Sara and Dad get more serious, Dad takes a caretakr role again, and Ben starts acting like a kid again. While making Lunch, dad discovers cookies in angie’s lunch bag, but he didn’t put them there.
“Let me take a wild guess”
You can almost hear the sitcom music as they look at Pat’s face on the monitor. And…credits. Wow, even for DCOM standards that ending was really rushes. As soon as pat got normal, it just…ends. I feel like this review took only 20 minutes, when the movie is like 80 something.
You think the basic moral would get pushed again, but nope. Okay, the ending still works well but I didn’t expect the movie and this review to end so quickly!
This movie holds up remarkably well. The characters are likable, the story is interesting, and it some really nice things going on. I like the whole mom thing, as it shows more complexity that i’ve ever seen in a DCOM.
It takes a pretty typical plot and breathes all new life into it. It’s not completely new, but the small bits like Ben taking up a caretaker role makes it work pretty well. The movie is pretty damn sweet at times, like you saw up there.
But of course, it’s Pat who steals the show. Not only is she really awesome, and makes you want one, she also helps bring those complex ideas. One of the more interesting uses of a AI.I smart house thing i’ve seen in a movie.
Oh, and it’s ALSO SCARY. Seriously, Pat alone does shit that belongs in a horror movie. It’s meant to be freaky, and it is. You can tell her actress had a lot of fun doing this movie, and the horror movie feel only adds to this.
While it has some plotholes, and it’s not 100 percent new, it works very well and I’m glad I finally reviewed it. Hope pat doesn’t invade your dreams, kiddies!
Wow, first A this month! And yes…next time, I return to crap.