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Film / The House of Yes

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Jackie Uh-Oh!

"Jackie and Marty belong to each other. Jackie's hand was holding Marty's penis when they came out the womb."
Mrs. Pascal describing her twin children

The House of Yes is a witty 1997 Black Comedy film about a rather interesting Thanksgiving dinner. It stars Parker Posey, Geneviève Bujold, Josh Hamilton, Tori Spelling, and Freddie Prinze Jr. It was originally a stage play by Wendy MacLeod that was adapted by director Mark Waters.

The Pascals are a well-to-do, upper-class family in Washington, D.C.. Mrs. Pascal (Bujold) is an austere snob who cares for her family since her husband "mysteriously" left them behind. There is Anthony (Prinze), the youngest, and the twins: Marty (Hamilton) and Jackie (Posey). Jackie, aka Jackie-O, is spoiled, stuck-up, and violently insane. She is obsessed with Jacqueline Kennedy and the slaying of John F. Kennedy. She also has major hots for her twin brother, Marty. Marty is perhaps the Only Sane Man in the family. While he and Jackie did have a romantic relationship in the past, he is trying desperately to leave all of that behind and live a normal life. He visits the family during Thanksgiving and brings along a surprise... his fiancée, Leslie (Tori Spelling).

Leslie is a working-class bakery worker from a very humble background so the snobbish Pascal family has trouble accepting her. It doesn't help that Jackie probably wants to kill her. It also doesn't help that Anthony apparently wants to steal her away from his brother. Oh, and there's a hurricane outside, ensuring that everyone stays in the house. In the span of one night, dark secrets are revealed, a loaded gun goes missing, and Hilarity Ensues.

This film provides examples of:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Anthony is the youngest and annoys his brother and sister with his constant nagging about their problems.
  • Arc Words: You be him... and I'll be her. This is said twice by Marty and Jackie. Both times, they are reenacting the JFK assassination. The first time, the gun is unloaded. The second time, they both know it isn't.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Pascal family is wealthy and austere. Not only is Jackie violent and crazy, but it's heavily implied the mother is as well (she has killed her husband). Anthony is better, but he's still willing to take advantage of a distraught Leslie just to sleep with her. Marty wants Leslie precisely because she is working-class and isn't a part of this social circle.
  • Ax-Crazy: Jackie, although she seems to prefer a gun to an ax.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family/Dysfunctional Family: Marty and Jackie were in an incestuous relationship, prior to Marty leaving (and Jackie subsequently shooting him). The mother seems to know this but doesn't care. Meanwhile, both she and Jackie are violently insane. Anthony seems to be the nicest, but even he is okay with sleeping with his brother's fiancée and taking advantage of her mental state.
  • Black Widow: It's very likely that Mrs. Pascal fits this trope, as it is implied she killed her husband.
  • Bookends: The movie starts and ends with home movies of Marty and Jackie at 14 years old when they were at an Ides of March costume party while Jackie narrates about the beginning of their taboo relationship.
  • Blithe Spirit: Leslie is chipper and has a positive attitude about life. This is in contrast to Marty being moody and cynical due to his family's craziness.
  • Break the Cutie: Also happens to Leslie. First, she finds out Marty and Jackie are in love, then she catches them having sex, and finally, she's sent running out of the house after Marty is killed. Her mental state gradually crumbles because of this.
  • Brick Joke: Jackie laments that she lost her brush and refuses to use a comb for fashion reasons, resulting in a small, bitter tirade. Soon after, she meets Leslie and freaks out, prompting her to make a quick exit by mentioning that she has to find her hairbrush. Leslie offers a comb, only for Jackie to freak out worse before running off.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The plot revolves around Marty and Jackie being in love.
  • Building of Adventure: The entire movie takes place in the Pascal home.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In this case, an actual gun. It's mentioned that Jackie bought one and we see it unloaded midway through the movie. It comes into play when it goes missing at one point and shows up when she wants to stop Marty from leaving the house, this time loaded.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: The movie plays light with the death of JFK, murder in general, and other dark themes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Jackie constantly has a zinger for every bit of dialogue thrown her way. She eventually makes fun of Leslie to the point that she has to leave the room.
  • Double Entendre: Jackie makes a slew of these about Marty. It's forgivable if no one gets them, all things considered.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: An in-universe example. Jackie once went to a costume party as Jackie Onassis in the pink dress she wore when JFK was assassinated, complete with fake blood. Also, little bits of pasta. Don't forget the bits of pasta she glued on the dress. Because a Jackie Kennedy The Day Of The Assassination costume would not be complete without little bits of brain. This trope was the reaction she got from the rest of the guests at the party.
  • The '80s: The movie takes place on Thanksgiving weekend 1983.
  • Evil Laugh: Jackie's reaction to Marty having a fiancée is a little unnerving... and funny.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie takes place over the course of one night (and a little bit of the following morning).
  • Family Disunion: One of the darker examples. Mrs. Pascal does not approve of Leslie due to her class status, and in fact, seems to be more accepting of Jackie and Marty's union despite them being twins.
  • Fish out of Water: Leslie is not wealthy, is uneducated, and is sane. She doesn't fit in well with the rest of the family who are none of these things.
  • Going to the Store: Mr. Pascal did this to the family, supposedly. He stepped out of the house and never came back. It's implied that Mrs. Pascal killed him, however.
  • Hot-Blooded: Jackie again. She once stabbed Marty for moving out and screams in rage when she can't find her hairbrush.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Jackie and Marty go back and forth this way a lot. See the Crowning Moments of Funny.
  • If I Can't Have You…: The words aren't spoken, but the trope is in full effect.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Jackie meets Leslie and has her Evil Laugh moment, she quickly mentions that she has to brush her hair, setting up the Brick Joke above.
  • Large Ham: Jackie, very much so. If she isn't snarking, she's screaming and throwing fits. And that's when she isn't blatantly hitting on her brother.
  • Love Triangle: There is one between Jackie-O, Marty and Leslie and briefly Anthony.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: This is what Leslie means to Marty. Her happiness rubs off on him somewhat and chips away at his moodiness. This is part of the reason why he chose to marry her.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only five characters in the whole thing. There are barely even any extras.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Averted. Mostly. Jackie ends up simply killing Marty and leaves Leslie alive.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Marty and Jackie enjoyed role-playing as JFK and Jackie O, reenacting the famous assassination of the president as foreplay. Incest while role-playing the JFK assassination with a live gun?... No thanks, Jackie.
  • Nothing Nice About Sugar and Spice: Jackie permanently dresses as Jackie Kennedy in the famous pink suit and forces people to call her Jackie, while trying to persuade her twin brother to restart their sexual relationship, despite him being engaged to Leslie and eventually kills him rather than let him leave her.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Leslie accuses Jackie of this. Again, see the Crowning Moments of Funny.
  • The '70s: The first and last scenes are set during an Ides of March party in 1971.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: Leslie isn't slobby, but she isn't as wealthy as the Pascals, which causes conflicts among them.
  • Spoiled Brat: This is what the title of the movie means. Jackie always gets her way, so "yes" has always been the answer.
  • Tempting Fate: Marty brings Leslie to Thanksgiving dinner despite knowing that Jackie would be there. She had previously shot him when he left home and is still in love with him. It was never going to go well.
  • Thanksgiving Day Story: The movie takes place during Thanksgiving.
  • Twincest: Marty and Jackie are twins who are having sex with one another.
  • Twist Ending: Given Jackie's aggressive nature, we assume she initiated the "relationship" with Marty. At the end, a clip is shown from a home video which suggests it was actually Marty who started it.
  • The Ditz: Leslie is sweet, but she isn't the smartest person in the room. It takes a while before she even realizes Jackie is making fun of her.
  • Unnamed Parent: We actually never learn Mrs. Pascal's first name. The only other name she goes by is "Mom".
  • Working-Class People Are Morons: Leslie could be seen this way, a sweet girl who is a bit lacking in the brains department. Could also be seen as an inversion of this trope, Leslie isn't necessarily stupid so much as missing the appearance of education and the facade of sophistication the family puts on, and may simply be someone Marty clings to in order to get away from where he came from.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Anthony's reaction when he finds out Marty and Jackie had an affair.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Jackie is a little confused on this one.
  • Yandere: Jackie, as evidenced by her murderous tendencies and thin facade of sweetness.