review for Housesitter on AllMovie

Housesitter (1992)
by Derek Armstrong review

The dream pairing of Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn does not produce the comic gold, so to speak, one would hope for, but Housesitter still has its share of lukewarm pleasures. Frank Oz's follow-up to the hits Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and What About Bob? is at its best when allowing the two veterans to engage in their experts-only subliminal sparring. As lie builds upon lie and both must go along with the others' whoppers for their own preservation, it's wonderful to watch Martin and Hawn match wits, trying to work each other into a corner without blowing the whole charade. The frustration, disbelief, and panic they barely contain, instead forcing a smile and having to run with the other's story, is priceless. However, the script on the whole doesn't live up to these best moments, asking altogether too many characters to play a lot dumber than they would really be. The ending is too hasty to sit well, for that matter. There's something too restrained about Housesitter, especially if one considers it a screwball comedy. Martin and Hawn's verbal gymnastics are good, but one wishes Oz would have found room for their gifts at physical comedy, which both have made something of a trademark. Still, their other trademarks -- Martin's righteous outrage ("I punched a totally innocent Hungarian!") and Hawn's blithe teasing -- make Housesitter worth recommending to their fans.