Eric D. Snider

Disturbia

Movie Review

Disturbia

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: C+

Released: April 13, 2007

 

Directed by:

Cast:

If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today, and if he wanted to remake one of his own films for an MTV audience, and if he wanted it to be kind of suspenseful but mostly silly ... well, he still wouldn't make "Disturbia," but you see where I'm going with this.

This is a junior version of "Rear Window," though it's not credited as such. I think that's why some people are so appalled by it (and believe me, the appalled people are burning up the Internets with their outrage). It's not because someone had the audacity to remake a Hitchcock film; it's because someone remade a Hitchcock film and DIDN'T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE IT. Despite the film's overwhelming similarity to the 1954 thriller, it's being passed off as a wholly original work, with no credit given to the earlier story. Where I come from, that's not a remake, or even an homage. That's a rip-off.

But where I come from isn't Hollywood, and they do things differently there. This amped-up, rock 'n' roll version stars teen-du-jour Shia LaBeouf as Kale, a suburban kid who's misunderstood and angry, which results in his being placed on house arrest for the summer. While his uncomprehending mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) works, ennui-stricken Kale does what he can to amuse himself within the geographic area dictated by his ankle monitor. Mostly, this means spying on the neighbors.

Next door is a new family with a hot teenager daughter, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), who coyly befriends Kale and indulges him in his voyeurism. (Somewhat naively, Ashley doesn't realize that she has probably been the subject of his spying, too.) Kale comes to believe that his other next-door neighbor, Mr. Turner (David Morse), is a serial killer, responsible for murders in his native Texas and more recently for a girl's disappearance here in wherever-this-is. Ashley is somewhat skeptical; Kale's horny, goofy friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) is far more eager to believe.

Capers ensue. Kale can't go past a certain point in his yard, which means Ronnie and Ashley have to work reconnaissance and report back via cell phones, video cameras, and other high-techery. ("See?!" exclaim screenwriters Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth. "'Rear Window' didn't have those!") They find a number of ambiguous clues, all of which could either be utterly damning or completely benign, depending on how you look at them. Kale's mom gets cozy with Turner, which weirds everyone out, partly because he might be a killer and partly because ... well, killer or not, he's awfully creepy.

There's a lot of coincidence and even more not-calling-the-police-when-you-should, but you can overlook some of that, particularly when the finale is as enjoyably tense as this one is. Credit Morse's professionalism (always give it your all, even when you're just in it for the paycheck) and director D.J. Caruso ("Taking Lives") for setting up high-tension situations and letting them play out more or less naturally. You don't entirely believe that all of this could happen, but hey, you paid your eight bucks, why not go along with it?

On the other hand, the film is little better than an episode of a good cop show, with nothing new to add to the age-old premise. It's a prime example of the You've Seen This Before Syndrome, where everything -- as pleasantly thrilling as it may occasionally be -- has been done before, better, and with less suspension of disbelief required.

LaBeouf is a likable young star who can do better than this. His two co-stars are mostly here as window-dressing, especially Aaron Yoo, whose Ronnie character talks like a 40-year-old Hollywood screenwriter trying to sound like a teenager.

So it's a pretty useless movie, objectively speaking, but harmless in its innocent dumbness. It has a hot girl and some nobody-understands-me teen angst, and it will probably be OK as a Friday-night date for the PG-13 crowd. Anyone older than about 20 should rent "Rear Window" instead.

Grade: C+

Rated PG-13, a little profanity, mild sexuality, some gory images and violence

1 hr., 44 min.

Stumble It!

This item has 26 comments

  1. Carrie says:

    This review reminds me of the Behind the Music: Vanilla Ice episode where Vanilla explained why the hook in Ice Ice Baby was not the same as the hook in the Queen/Bowie awesomeness that is Under Pressure.

  2. B says:

    The Simpsons remake of Rear Window was shorter, funnier, more suspenseful and better.

    "He's going to kill Rod and Todd. That's horrible... in principle."

  3. SaraLuna says:

    I watched Shia LaBeouf on some talk show recently (can't remember if it was Letterman, Leno or Mike and Judy), and he said that Disturbia is a remake of Vertigo. Do the filmmakers have to put "based on Hitchcock's Vertigo" on the film to acknowledge a remake? Are the filmmaker's denying it? I know nothing of the film industry or online discussions of outraged folks; I guess I just wasn't aware of this being anything BUT a remake, because Shia said so in the interview.

  4. PCachu says:

    Sounds more like a futile attempt at last-minute CYA, to me. I mean, come on, he couldn't even be bothered to name the CORRECT TITLE they were "remaking".

    I suppose we could be thankful he didn't claim they were remaking The Birds.

  5. SaraLuna says:

    *forehead smack* Sorry PCachu, that was my fault. Shia did say Rear Window and I meant to type Rear Window, but my fingers weren't paying attention and typed Vertigo. This is why I don't comment more: I'm so damn stupid.

  6. Amanda says:

    a. I've always wondered about the beginning of Ice Ice Baby. Did the Vanilla's manager not notice? Did David Bowie get paid off somewhere behind the scenes? Hhhhmmmmmmm....

    b. In French, Shia is the four letter word for excrement. Also in French, LaBeouf means "the beef". Put them together and you've got an embarrased actor and some very disturbia'd parents.

    c. I crack myself up.

  7. Nicholas says:

    Amanda, I'm not sure where you learned your French, but in France the word for excrement is "merde." As far as I know "shia" isnt' even used as slang. And "LeBeouf" means absolutely nothing in French. However, the word "Boeuf does, in fact, mean beef. In Shia's last name the "o" and the "e" are reversed. So technically his name doesn't mean anything.

    I'm glad that you find yourself so funny.

  8. Rob D. says:

    I agree with the review. It's pretty good, but obviously not original. It seems like any good original movies bomb at the box office, and remakes and sequels make all of the money. I did like the "Let Me Free" screen saver he had with jail bars. Actually, besides the whole serial killer thing, who wouldn't want his life- I'll take it, house arrest and all.

  9. Amanda says:

    ouch, Nicholas. Well, it's just what a French person told me, so I don't know what to say. Maybe you're right.

  10. Amanda says:

    Besides, I thought that merde was the swear word version of excrement, not the literal term. I guess I shouldn't have mentioned the four-letter thing then, huh.

    And true, beouf is not the same as boeuf in spelling. I meant that it just sounds the same when people say it, or so my French friend told me. As to the shia thing, that's one more fact I'll have to ask her again. But that's what she told me.

    She and I just had a laugh over his name once and the review reminded me of it.

    Again I say: ouch.

  11. Greg says:

    @Amanda: From what I remember, Vanilla Ice got sued about that song. He tried to say there was one note different, but I believe he lost the case. Or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me.

  12. Mary says:

    I actually really liked the movie. I think there are two reasons why they didn't out right advertise the film as being like The Rear Window. Number 1: They didn't want everyone to think they were doing an exact remake of the film, cuz that wasn;t what they were going for. They just based the movie off it, did a more teen version, if you will. Number 2: You had to be pretty stupid if you didn't eventually figure out that it was based on The Rear Window just by watching the previews, or at least half way through the movie. Not to mention you don't here anyone denying that it's based on The Rear Window do you? Just my opinion

    About Shia's name possibly meaning excerment beef, with a face like that his name could be Semore Butts and I would still drool

  13. Kara says:

    Hollywood has defiled Hitchcock before. Anyone remember Mission: Impossible II? Completely ripped off Hitchcock's Notorious with Cary Grant and Ingrid Berman. As if I didn't have enough reason to dislike Tom Cruise.

  14. Mark says:

    I found the film to be thoroughly enjoyable. I jumped into the film by default about 40 minutes after the start because I was waiting for The Hoax to start and didn't like any of the other possibilities. I tore myself away after 20 minutes and returned for the entire film several days later. I saw the similarity to RW but still much enjoyed the film, and now want to go back to see RW again.

  15. yoori says:

    i think this review is stupid. I found the movie really great! It had romance, horror, suspense, and comedy. The actors were great and The whole time i was waching the movie i was totally emersed in it! And Aaron yoo was really good and so cute, he was the comic relief :) I WANNA WATCH IT AGAN! xD

    missed the first 20 min.... but yeah if u havent seen it, WATCH IT! :D

  16. Julie says:

    I agree with Yoori and think it was a well done tribute to "The Rear View Mirror" and i'm a huge fan of the master of suspense (The Hitch). The intensity of drama from his fathers death and the fact that Kayle had to cross the thresh hold of his fathers office to see his love interest was pretty intense. Dialogue was also smart and witty makeing it a attractive to a young audience and yet keeping it up to par for older generations. The fact that they added more neighbors to whom he observed, a love interest, and a quirky best friend added a good texture and complexity needed for today's audience appealing to young and old. I'm definately buying it!

  17. whome says:

    Julie, I don't think that Eric disagrees with you that all the elements were an important part of the movie. It's just that all these things (other neighbors observed, a love interest, quirky best friend) were also done in the original (well, housekeeper rather than best friend) and done better. Eric didn't say the movie stank, it was just done better the first time. So the older audience will always be comparing the two, and Disturbia will not look as good because of it.

  18. heg says:

    Julie: As a huge fan of "The Hitch," I am sure you know the movie Rear Window. Or am I missing some slang nickname for the movie? Or did Hitchcock make a movie called The Rear View Mirror? If it's one of the latter, then my face is all red.

  19. Marcos says:

    I want to meet SaraLuna just because admission of fault was so authentic!

  20. Sammy says:

    I've seen this movie three times, and I could watch it again & again. For one thing Shia is simply adorable. When he gets hurt and all you just wanna hug him =]. Also I always forget about something in the huge fight scene and every time I see it it thrills me because there's so much going on. I actually saw it my third time last night, I think I screamed a million times and jumped out of my seat a lot too. It's just an exciting movie, and even though I'm not under house arrest and my neighbor isnt a killer (i hope) i can still relate to it. The things teenagers do when we're bored, the way they handle their crushes on Ashley. It's just an awesome movie.

    YAY.

  21. Aaron says:

    Nicholas is a tool.

    "Chier" is the verb Amanda is looking for, and in the right context/conjugation sounds a little like Shia. I don't know where Nicholas learned his French, but I picked mine up on the streets, in HLM nightmares like Vaux-en-Velin and Vénissieux where one is likely to hear such excretionary language.

  22. Kris says:

    Great movie, but more 2 the point.....How do we go about getting a hold of that 'set me free' screen saver ???

  23. Justin B. says:

    This is a Great film, I don't see why they try and tie it in with Rear window it uses the same base line but its a complely different movie so it should get crredit for being an orignal.. Anyways it was well directed and thought out, With all the techology these days house arrest would most likely be a dream too most teen's, Video games, messenger, cell phones, youtube, Ipods, Xbox 360, PSP, When creating disturbia they kept all these concepts in mind and used them, Kales mother cancled his Xbox live, and Itunes, So thats a great idea for triggering a teens idea to spy on the girl next door, Besides the killer thing i would love to have his life, The hot girl next door is a hige bonus...Anyways I don't see why this movie shouldn't have nearly perfect Reviews from people, its nearly flawless, System of a downs lonely day couldn't be a better pick for music choice in the at home chorces seen, I'm Sure Teens like me can relate to Kale and that brings a good crowd and feeling into the film...Inaddition .I love the "let me free Sceensaver" if anyone knows how to get ahold of one please email me at Buckfushman@yahoo.com.....

    Thanks!

  24. John Doe says:

    Wow, I guess Shia has lots of MTV fans here. I agree with Eric. The movie didn't totally suck, but it wasn't anything special. It wasn't deep, scary, or even that interesting. I guess the girls liked it because they think Shia is cute, and guys liked it because they want to spy on hot girls who want to be spied on. Otherwise, an utterly forgettable movie that gives more evidence that Shia can only play the same (annoying) character over and over and over...

  25. Allister McBurton says:

    Alright, first I would like to let it be known that I find online comments to be the lowest form of human communication, right below musicals. Second, this movie, as has been so aptly pointed out by Mr. Snider, is mediocre at best, and certainly doesn't do the original it was based on justice. My main problem with it was that id didn't resolve any of the issues it brought up. Hawt grl Ashley has troubles with her parents? Who cares! Hawt boi Kale has been spying on Hawt grrl Ashley? Lets have them end up together anyway! Kale's dad freaking died in front of his eyes? Let's never mention it again, or resolve the resultant problems with his mother! etc. etc.

  26. Megan says:

    First, @ Allister, if you find online comments so debasing, why did you feel you were obligated to leave one of your own? Seems like a bit of a conflict of interest to me....

    Second, I absolutely loved this movie, and actually just finished watching it for the fourth time. And as I had the previous three times, I found myself hiding in my pillow at some parts. I think that most of these negative comments are because some people are more interested in nitpicking about every little detail rather than just enjoying a movie that has laughs and scares rolled into one.

    Thirdly, who cares if Rear Window wasn't credited properly? I haven't heard about any lawsuits...have you? Besides, I think it's awesome that they've made a Rear Window for the teen generation. I bet a bunch of people (me included) have watched Rear Window BECAUSE of this movie. Plus, Disturbia brings an interesting layer into our culture to link the old with the new. Classic, and clever. I love it.

    P.S. Allister, your comment is still making me laugh....

Subscription Center

Eric D. Snider's "Snide Remarks"

This is to join the mailing list for Eric's weekly humor column, "Snide Remarks." For more information, go here.

Subscribe

Eric D. Snider's "In the Dark"

This is to join the mailing list for Eric's weekly movie-review e-zine. For more information on it, go here.

Subscribe
 
Come read about baseball and web development at www.jeffjsnider.com | Diamond Clarity Chart