April 13, 2007, - 12:25 pm

Weekend Box Office: Thrilling “Rear Window” Rip-off Trumps Left-Wing Halle Berry Dud

Two thrillers hit the box, this weekend, and ironically, the one targeted at teens is excellent, whereas the one starring the pretty starlet is a trashy waste of time:
* “Disturbia“–Readers of this site know how much I dislike . But Schlemielberg strikes gold with this clear rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.”
“Disturbia” is one of my two favorite thrillers, so far, this year (the other is next week’s excellent “Fracture“)–and one of the best movies of 2007 overall, so far. Although it clearly plagiarizes the plot and many scenes from the Hitchcock classic, it is a great movie and extremely thrilling nonetheless.

And like Hitchcock, this one is not high on gore and blood, though there are a very few slightly disturbing scenes. A hallmark of a great thriller is that it does not rely on sickening visuals to creep you out, but plays with your mind, instead.
The movie cleverly updates Hitchcock using teens as the voyeurs– instead of Jimmy Stewart (who was about 40 at the time he did “Rear Window”)–and the huge mass of technological gadgets and devices that have come to market since Raymond Burr was spied upon by his wheelchair bound neighbor committing murder. David Morse–of “St. Elsewhere” fame–while no Burr, is far creepier.
Shia LeBeouf plays Kale, a teen under house arrest for punching out his Spanish teacher. Bored to tears at home after his mother disables his personal TV and video games, he first wastes time doing inane things, like building a strange Twinkie sculpture. Bored with that, he soon begins spying on the cute new girl next door (who is bright and charming, but not Grace Kelly). Then he begins to see his other neighbor engaged in mysterious behavior.
Soon, Kale suspects his neighbor of being a serial killer he’s heard about on the news and in the paper. With the girl next door and a high school friend, Kale begins spying on the neighbor, despite his mother’s admonishment.
The movie is thrilling, edge-of-your-seat stuff. And I can’t recommend it highly enough. This is what an escapist, enjoyable, movie experience is supposed to be about.
I’d bet Hitchcock is smiling down from above. Although this contemporary emulation will never be as good as his original, it’s close enough. And very well updated for today’s American audience.
Go see this. It’s great stuff.

* “Perfect Stranger“–More like Perfectly Cockamamie. This movie is a huge mess. It’s a cardinal rule of murder mysteries that you’re supposed to get at least some hints and clues as to whom the murderer is. In this one, all the clues point to someone else. And in the end, the plot turns out to be preposterous.
And that’s not surprising, given that—-this movie is , from the very beginning. And the messages have nothing to do with the plot or the storyline. Usually, movies that rely on political propaganda are heavily laden with politics to try to compensate for extremely weak plots. This one falls into that template. And not even pretty Halle Berry–whose looks far surpass her vastly overrated acting ability–can save it.
Berry plays an investigative journalist for a New York Post-style tabloid. She tries to expose a Mark Foley-esque Republican Senator, secretly having gay affairs with male interns while he professes conservative family values. Not that this has anything to do with the plot that eventually materializes–it doesn’t, but Hollywood wants to remind you that evil conservative Republicans are all like Mark Foley . . . just in case you forgot. (Because no liberal Congressmen have been caught in immoral sex scandals. ? ? ? Etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam.)
Berry quits her job when the paper tables her Mark Foley story (the Senator’s name is Sachs; get it–“Sachs-ual Harassment”? Haha, funny). Soon her childhood friend is found murdered. She and her former research assistant suspect her friend was murdered by a high-powered ad executive–Bruce Willis in possibly the worst toupee I’ve ever seen. Guess they spent the entire hair and make-up budget on Berry.
Berry goes online to singles chatsites to try to entice Willis to try to get into his head. Then, she goes undercover as a temp in his large ad agency to try to get into his computer while he tries to get in her pants.
The biggest thing I learned from this movie was that Victoria’s Secret must have wasted a boatload of cash on repeated, annoying product placement in this movie. I almost thought Victoria was Halle’s co-star (though, sorry guys, you won’t see her in any stage of undress).
From my on this incredibly ludicrous movie, it even uses the dead bodies of our troops for meaningless dialogue, completely irrelevant to the plot (if one dares call that a “plot”):

And then there’s Berry’s snide dialogue about dead bodies of U.S. soldiers coming home from Iraq and how the government is trying to hide them. What on earth is this doing in a movie thriller that has not a whit to do with Iraq? Shame on the makers of this movie and Halle Berry for using dead U.S. soldiers for dialogue fodder.

And shame on pseudo-patriot Bruce Willis, too, for being in this dumb film.
Trust me when I recommend that you skip this one and see “Disturbia,” instead. It’s a total dud. At the end, you’ll wonder why you wasted time on this idiocy. Complete stupidity.

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2 Responses

Orson Welles directed “Rear Window”, but it was Raymond Burr who played the murderer.

Hourman on April 13, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Yet another reason I don’t care for celebs’ politics on the right or left…well, OK, maybe Chuck Norris is the exception.
Good thing Halle is pretty, she’s been in one bomb after another.
Senator Sachs first name wasn’t “Harry” was it?

Jeff_W on April 13, 2007 at 4:27 pm

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