HOUSESITTER put Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn together for a fairly amusing rom-com piffle. Not too well embraced by critics, the $26,000,000 entry did well enough in theaters, 23rd place in 1992, the $58,500,000 domestic gross part of a global take that totaled $94,900,000. Filmed in Massachusetts, directed by Frank Oz, with a screenplay by Mark Stein, it’s no earth-shaker, but has enough fun developed for a lazy-day watch, thanks to the stars meshing.

His marriage proposal rejected by his childhood sweetheart, struggling architect ‘Newton Davis’ (Martin) not only has a shafted heart but the chic house he built for his girlfriend sits vacant. Months into his funk, a one-night stand with a waitress named ‘Gwen’ (Hawn) doesn’t end his misery, but begins a new and expanded version of it when Gwen decides to visit Newt’s homey hometown (outside Boston). Spinning tales like a fib-tornado, Gwen not only moves into the designer digs, but convinces his parents and other villagers that she and Newton are married. Her lies beguile even ‘Becky’ (Dana Delany), his ring-averse ex. Cornered and flummoxed, Newt answers the Gwen conundrum with his own barrage of counter-lies, and the merry-go-round of increasing absurdity continues until its foregone conclusion.

Initially, Gwen’s deceit takes some warming up to, even with Hawn’s considerable, well-sharpened comic chops, but when the two begin sparring their fables, they spark some decent laughs. The frothed-up enterprise would have benefited from a less-intrusive score, since Miles Goodman’s never shuts up, overdosing to cue us in on whimsy. Still, the adept stars pull rabbit from hat and save the day. They’d reteam seven years later with less success in a needless remake of 1970s The-Out-Of-Towners. With Donald Moffat, Julie Harris, Peter MacNicol, Richard B. Shull, Laurel Cronin. 101 minutes.

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