Many moons ago, before alcohol poisoning via Four Loko was trendy, my sister and I popped a couple cans and revisited a favorite childhood classic, Man of the House. Remember that movie? With Jonathan Taylor Thomas (here on out referred to as JTT) and Chevy Chase? Here, let me refresh your memory:
This movie was my JAM back in ’95/’96/’97. I was deep in my JTT celebrity crush, watched Home Improvement religiously, collected every BOP Magazine he was in, and even co-wrote a fan letter with my friend, Meagan (you can read more about that little project here). And Man of the House was in heavy rotation in my…well…house. From the kid perspective, you rooted for JTT, as he was clearly untouchable and could do no wrong. Man, fuck Chevy Chase, right? Who cares if he’s trying to be a stand-up father figure to his girlfriend’s son in the hopes of one day marrying her and making the three of them an official family? JTT likes it with just him and his mom, he hate’s Chevy Chase’s eggs hollandaise à la Jack (big ups to me for still remembering THAT), and doesn’t want him kissing or touching his mom, despite her clearly enjoying it. That intruder needs to take his ass back to the courtroom and out of their lives, like, yesterday. Totally reasonable.
From the adult perspective, however, you can’t help but notice that JTT’s character is kind of a little shit. He lobs verbal assault after verbal assault at Jack, and pretty much runs the house, forcing his mom and Jack to sleep in separate bedrooms because the idea of them sleeping in the same bed is “psychologically traumatizing.” I feel like if I talked to my parents the way he talked to Chevy Chase, my bedroom would be my second home on account of all the grounding. But what really grinds my gears watching this movie as an adult is that his mom does nothing to thwart her son’s relentless torture of her boyfriend. She even lets him walk all over her and justifies it with bogus psychological nonsense that she gets from him! This is especially puzzling considering that it had probably been some time since she had gotten decently banged. The movie says she brought other men home before, but they never stayed around for long, which tells me either she maybe saw and/or touched it, or didn’t even get around to full penetration before the relationship was terminated. So after a series of underwhelming relationships, she finally meets a decent guy with whom the chemistry is electric, who would be an excellent potential step-father to her terrorist of a son, and then proceeds to let said son cock-block her? Oh, HELL naw. The little bastard has way too much power and he needs to be taken down a notch.
And let’s not even get started on the topic of whether or not this movie is perpetuating cultural appropriation. If you think about it, it’s a bunch of white people participating in what looks like a generic Native American Boy Scout organization, and doing stereotypically “Indian” things, like building teepees and giving each other “Indian” names. The organization is even called The Indian Guides, which I feel like would have gotten some major side-eye had it come out in our current cultural climate. Watching it back, it’s unintentionally hilarious, albeit a little cringey. But maybe they are covered because they have what looks like a real Native American serving as an advisor to their Indian Guide group? So maybe throwing in the token kind of makes it okay?
While this movie will always have a special place in my heart, I learned two things that day:
- Four Loko is probably as close as I’ll get to see what a literal asshole tastes like; and
- Don’t re-watch your childhood favorites. Or maybe, do re-watch your childhood favorites, because the adult perspective can make them funny in different ways.