To conclude 90’s month at SAW, I went way back to 1992 and a movie I barely remember ever being in theaters. Housesitter. When architect Newton Davis (Steve Martin) builds a dream home for his girlfriend in their small hometown and proposes marriage, he’s stunned and heartbroken when she says no. The house remains empty until Davis spends the night with an attractive waitress named Gwen (Goldie Hawn). Having told her about the rejected proposal and empty house, Gwen decides to move into the space when she awakens the next morning to find Davis has left without saying goodbye.
Gwen informs the people of the small town that she’s Davis’s new wife, including Davis’s ex-girlfriend, Becky. Gwen’s charms win over everyone she comes into contact with and when Davis finds out what’s going on, he and Gwen come to an agreement that she can stay in the house if she helps Davis win Becky back.
This was a first watch for me and I have to say that I enjoyed Housesitter a lot, although by the end I wondered why they titled it Housesitter and not something else. Gwen never pretends to be housesitting for Davis and the word is never uttered once throughout the entire film (that I remember!). But that’s just a minor nitpick on my part.
Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn are comedic powerhouses and it’s their talent that keeps Housesitter from becoming something of a bore. It’s a ridiculous premise, sure, but it works thanks to the two stars. Gwen is quick on her feet with insane stories about her life and marriage to Davis, but she’s so sincere it’s not surprising that everyone believes her. Davis is the “straight man” to Gwen’s free spirit but even he gets in on the ruse when it becomes clear that Becky is starting to sense what a catch he really is. One of my favorite moments in the movie is when Davis sings “Tura Lura Lura” to his father. How anyone managed to get through filming that without cracking up is beyond me.
The movie isn’t without its faults. It starts to feel repetitive after a while and some bits drag on a little too long, but ultimately I found Housesitter to be a cute movie with a fun “fake dating” trope where a multitude of lies begin to feel real. Gwen and Davis fight as though they’re a real couple, and while they’re supposedly faking it for an audience, there’s still a lot of truth to their conversations. They just don’t realize it until the fake relationship is coming to an end.
I don’t think Housesitter is some kind of cinematic masterpiece, but it’s light and fun and it’s worth a watch for the antics of Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn. I’ve been watching a lot of early 90’s comedies lately and so many of them have a certain comfort-zone feel about them. You can turn them on, watch them, enjoy them and then turn them off without feeling like you have to dissect and analyze everything. Sometimes we all need movies like that, and Housesitter is one of them.