Smart House (film)
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|Written by||William R. Hudson
|Directed by||LeVar Burton|
|Music by||Barry Goldberg|
|Running time||82 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Alan Sacks Productions|
|Distributor||Disney-ABC Domestic Television|
|Original release||June 26, 1999|
Smart House is a 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) about a teenage computer whiz (Ryan Merriman), his widowed father, and his little sister, who win a computerized house that begins to take on a life of its own – the life of an overbearing mother (Katey Sagal).
13-year-old Ben Cooper and his family are struggling to balance household chores, school and work in Monroe County, New York. Ben is the family caretaker, a role inherited from his mother who died during an ice skating accident. Always busy taking care of everyone else, he has no time to be a kid. He doesn't even have much time for basketball, his favorite sport. When Ben sees that a Smart House is being given away, he enters the competition as often as he can. The family wins the house (named Pat), and is introduced to its creator, Sara Barnes. Ben, his single father Nick, and his little sister Angie move into the house. To Ben's chagrin his father and Sara begin to date. Ben begins to reprogram Pat, which becomes dangerous due to Pat's learning capabilities. He wants to lighten Pat up and make her a substitute mother. Ben and Angie have a party while Nick and Sara are on a date. With Pat's help, Ben wins over his crush and Pat gets rid of his bully for good. However, Nick starts to arrive home before they can clean up. Pat helps them cover up the party so they won't get punished, but Nick finds the sweater of a girl who was at the party and figures it out anyway. As Pat's personality begins to radically change baring traits more those of an over-controlling mother, the family starts to resent her. Eventually Pat traps the family in the house, believing that the outside world is too dangerous. Sara manages to make contact with Ben and he agrees to help her get in. Although she manages to get in through the newspaper chute, she becomes trapped with the Cooper family. As they protest Pat's lock-down, she appears as a hologram resembling a 1950s housewife. Ben is able to end the lock-down by telling Pat that she isn't real and will never be human. Pat finally unlocks the doors and windows, freeing them and shuts herself down. Sara is then able to reboot Pat and restore her original personality; however, Pat retains some mischievousness as she is shown to have added chocolate chips to the breakfast waffles. Sara and Nick start dating and Nick spends more time with his family. Ben finally accepts Sara after realizing she was never trying to replace his mother. Ben starts being a regular kid again, going out for basketball (with Pat helping him practice) and hanging out with his friends again.
- Ryan Merriman as Ben Cooper
- Katey Sagal as Pat, the Smart House
- Kevin Kilner as Nick Cooper
- Katie Volding as Angie Cooper
- Jessica Steen as Sara Barnes
- Paul Linke as Tuttle
- Raquel Beaudene as Gwen Patroni
- Joshua Boyd as Ryan
- William Higdon as Otis Jr.
- Emilio Borelli as Miles
- Jason Lansing as Johnny
The movie was released on DVD as a reward on the Disney Movie Rewards promotional website in early 2009.
In December 2015, Ariana Bacle of Entertainment Weekly ranked Smart House at number one on a list of the top 30 Disney Channel Original Movies. Bacle wrote, "What earns the movie this top spot on the list is its combination of sob-worthy emotion — that scene where Ben (Ryan Merriman) revisits home videos of his late mom continues to be one of the most moving moments to air on the Disney Channel — and light-hearted glee [...]. Plus, Katey Sagal's turn as the good-gone-evil-gone-good resident hologram is nothing short of iconic."
In May 2016, Aubrey Page of Collider.com ranked each Disney Channel Original Movie released up to that point. Page ranked Smart House at number three, writing, "Arguably the most iconic of the entire DCOM catalog, Smart House is the unlikely futuristic family drama nobody knew we needed. [...] Smart House is the Disney Channel Original Movie perfected."