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I finally managed to watch this movie. I had seen every other movie in the Hardy family series and this would, fittingly I thought, close out the series for me.
I must admit I was disappointed in the movie. Perhaps I missed it, but I thought that a little more background should have been provided. There were a few people that were noticeably absent, particularly Andy's father, James Hardy (Lewis Stone). His long-time flame, Polly Benedict (played by Ann Rutherford) was also given little mention beyond seeing her in a clip and seeing her picture.
The Hardy movies made me feel like a part of the family. However in the 12 years since the previous film a lot had obviously happened and there was little or no recap. How did Judge Hardy die? What happened to Marion's husband? How did Marion and Jimmy come to live in the Hardy house? Where was Polly Benedict?
To me the movie seemed to not know whether to stand on its own or to be simply a nostalgia picture. It tries to capitalize on the past movies but is content to introduce several major new characters with little or no explanation. I would have loved to know where he'd met Jane, or how he came to go to California. A theme that seemed to run through the movie was Andy turning into his father: he is asked by his son for "a man to man talk", Andy doesn't understand the new "buzzwords" of his nephew Jimmy's generation. Andy is now a part of the awkward older generation.
I suspect that this movie was intended to relaunch Mickey Rooney's career. That is only my guess, however at the conclusion the words "To Be Continued" seemed pretty obvious that there were to be additional sequels - sequels never made. I imagine when this movie came out movie audiences no longer felt the chemistry that had existed with the original Hardy family. Andy had been the main focus of most of the earlier Hardy movies but now he was the anachronism. He was no longer an idol for younger, hipper audiences. At the same time the supporting cast wasn't up to carrying the lead. Like so many remakes that never really re-capture the magic of the original, Andy Hardy Comes Home just made me appreciate that the producers had been able to capture magic in a bottle in the original movies.
In short, this is the last movie in the series. It doesn't completely close out the series and leaves a lot of questions unanswered, however for Hardy fans, it is still a film worth seeking out. It will make the original movies all that much more special.
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