Man Of The House 1995
When Ben Archer (Jonathan Thomas) is about six years old, his dad leaves him and his mother, Sandra (Farrah Fawcett), and goes off with another woman. This is a very traumatic experience for Ben. So, when attorney Jack Sturges (Chevy Chase) is attracted to his mother and moves in with them, Ben doesn’t like the idea at all. He doesn’t trust men and starts doing everything he can to run Jack off. He persuades Jack to join him in an Indian Guide group and embarrasses him as often as possible. He gives Jack a demeaning Indian name, Squatting Dog, and makes him appear silly whenever he can. It almost works, but Jack is determined to make friends with Ben. With the help of a friend who is a real Indian chief, Jack appears to be making progress. And the Indian Guide boys all love the Chief’s authentic Indian ways and instructions. But Jack has even more serious problems with a group of hoodlums who are out to eliminate him because he sent their boss to prison. The escapades of the Indian Guide group are great fun, particularly a climatic harrowing camping trip in the woods. Chevy Chase provides most of the laughs as the mistreated, but determined prospective dad.
The story theme is very admirable, namely, that earnest people should be trusted even though they aren’t perfect. Jack tries diligently to win Ben’s trust and the other Indian Guide dads encourage him to persevere. He sincerely loves Sandra and wants to make her happy. Unfortunately, he moves in with her on an experimental basis to test their compatibility and win Ben’s acceptance. In one intimate scene, sexual relations are implied to follow and their premarital cohabitation is nonchalantly portrayed as routine and acceptable. No sex scenes or nudity are shown, but a few mild slang words for sex, genitals and excretion are used. Ben is worldly wise beyond his years because he has been watching the Donahue and Geraldo TV shows. MAN OF THE HOUSE carries a positive message of trust and shows men who love and care for their sons. However, the implication that premarital cohabitation is acceptable unhappily mars this fun, uplifting film.