Houseguest (1995)

Remember Sinbad? Long before the comedian-actor Maxim magazine dubbed the worst comic of all time was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy he was the co-star of the movie Houseguest, a comedy that actually grossed $26 million in box office receipts in that cultural vacuum of an era known as the mid-1990s.

Sinbad stars in the movie as Kevin Franklin, a wheeling and dealing Pittsburgh man with delusions of making it rich on one scheme after another who stumbles into assuming the identity of a well-known Baltimore dentist while attempting to run away from a $50,000 debt with the mob. The real dentist is the stuffed shirt former summer camp pal of Gary Young (played by the late Phil Hartman) who Kevin convinces to go back home as he assumes his place with an undertaker’s suitcase as prep school career day guest speaker and houseguest at the Youngs. Slapstick hilarity, suspension bridges of disbelief and some bizarro McDonald’s product placement ensues as Kevin tries to maintain his charade while running from the stereotypically dumb mob cronies.

In the clip above, Kevin breaks character as the so-called successful dentist with a strict diet he’s pretending to be by stealing Gary’s hamburger and tries to pretend like he knows the song they used to sing at Camp Maple Ridge when they were kids. It’s one of two times the Camp Maple Ridge song comes into play in the movie. The second is in the movie’s zany climax when fake Derek Bond meets real Derek Bond and virtually every character in the movie ends up held hostage by the mob in the Young’s living room.

In the end, the movie shows what can happen when you go 25 years without seeing your best pals from summer camp and how you can sometimes find a better friend in the guy pretending to be your pretentious summer camp friend than the one with whom you actually shared a bunk. For some reason I can’t quite figure out, this movie is not yet available on DVD or on Netflix.

Matt Ralph

Matt Ralph

I'm the editor of Summer Camp Culture and also blog at Tangzine.com and MatthewRalph.com. I live in the Philadelphia area and went to camps and camp meetings growing up in Ohio, Maryland and New Jersey.

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