Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Pig's Ears on the Big Screen

There's something intriguing about fixing up an old house and Hollywood taps into this appeal frequently.  Our family is like the rest of our culture in how much we enjoy getting lost in a good movie and extreme renovations are part of some of my favorite films.

Think about some iconic movies where the young couple fixed up a pig's ear (extremely run-down home).  Start with the classic, It's A Wonderful Life (1946).   George and Mary honeymooned at the old Granville house before they fixed it up and raised their young family in it.   Remember how Jimmy Stewart threw a rock at one of the windows while he walked Donna Reed home?  And what about Pacific Heights (1990)?  Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine fix up that amazing Polychrome in San Francisco before psychotic tenant Michael Keaton moves into the rental unit they need to make the payments and turns their home ownership dream into a nightmare.  Finally, don't forget the heartwarming cartoon Up (2009).  Mr. Fredricksen and his future bride met in the little run-down house as children before they fell in love, fixed it up after they got married, and spent the rest of their lives together there.  That's all part of the reason he's so attached to it and the multicolored little home is a character along with Russell and the talking dog Doug. 

Diane Lane had the starring role in Under The Tuscan Sun (2003) which is at the top of my Hollywood Pig's Ears list.  First, it's about Frances Mayes' adventure in Italy.  I also really love movies based on true stories.  And finally,the plot is structured around her enormous rehab effort.  Look at that picture in the photo to the left; plants overgrown to the point of blocking the door, peeling paint, and nothing to consider too seriously... unless you want to take a run-down home and transform it into something spectacular like Frances did.  If that's the way you think, then you don't get hung-up on the little challenges, you see the potential and all the assets of the property; the solid structure with generations of history to build upon, the architectural details ready to be restored, and the landscape that's waiting to be revitalized.  I look at that house and think, That is my kind of place.   

The Notebook (2004) is really about love in the midst of Alzheimer's disease, but this beloved film does contain an example of a pig's ear renovation.  Midway through, Ryan Golsing works tirelessly to resurrect that Antebellum mansion and this plays an integral part in the storyline because his work leads to his reunion with Rachel McAdams when she spots his photo in a local newspaper article.

When you talk about movies with rehab efforts in the plot, you can't leave out the classic, The Money Pit (1986) starring a young Tom Hanks and Shelley Long.  That big house looked like a beautiful palatial estate until they started making their minor upgrades.  That's when the fun starts... for us. 

In Mulitplicity (1996), Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell patch things up after he finally finishes their kitchen/house remodelling project.  As a side note, I really love that apartment over the garage where he has his  clones hanging out in secret.  Who doesn't envy having space like that for in-laws and guests to have a home away from home when they come over for an extended visit?  Good stuff.

Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore don't fix up any houses in Ghost (1990), but they do up fit that loft together before they move in, so their capturing the romantic spirit I'm talking about.  People really love the idea of fixing up something and turning it into their home. 

So if that's you, get ready for an adventure like the one's shown on the big screen and mentioned above.  Unlike the films, it will take you longer than a couple hours, but it will also be a lot more meaningful and exciting.  Get ready to take plenty of pictures and video... and enjoy the ride.


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