Steven Spielberg has a new crush, and his name is Shia LaBeouf. LaBeouf has been cast in just about every Spielberg production lately, including this summer's Transformers and the upcoming fourth installment of Indiana Jones. Sure, Spielberg's a genius and you have to give him credit for basically inventing the summer blockbuster with Jaws in 1976, but does he have that keen of an eye for talent? After all, this is the same guy who cast Kate Capshaw in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and basically had her screaming through the entire thing...hen he married her.
The Spielberg produced "Disturbia" (Pg-13, 104 min) is a Rear Window for the Xbox generation. While we were watching it, my date turned to me and said, "This is kind of like the episode of The Simpsons where Bart breaks his leg and thinks he sees Flanders kill Maude!" I didn't really want to explain the whole Jimmy Stewart/Alfred Hitchcock thing, so I just nodded and said, "Holy Crap, you're right!" I need to start dating women more my own age. Anyway, the film opens with a jolting car crash in which 17-year-old Kale (LaBeouf) and his father are involved. His father is killed and Kale was driving, so of course he blames himself for it. Can you see where this is headed? Fast-forward to a year later and Kale is now a juvenile delinquent trying to cope with the death of his Dad. Already in trouble with the law (that whole dealing with a dead parent thing), a straight right is thrown to his Spanish teacher's face and he's put on house arrest for the summer with an ankle bracelet for good measure. Binoculars in hand and nowhere to go, he becomes the neighborhood's version of Bewitched's Gladys Kravitz. The girl next-door and requisite love interest Ashley (Sarah Roemer) provides the voyeuristic thrills expected in a film like this, while his Asian friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) provides the comic relief.
All this extra time on his hands and he begins to think the peculiar neighbor Mr. Turner (played by David Morse complete with the slicked back hair and pierced ear for that extra creepy teen movie bad guy look) is up to no good. From there the story goes into boy who cried wolf territory with nobody believing what it is he claims to see. I won't give away anything by saying there aren't any real surprises here. Most of the story is predictable but the performances are strong and the story moves quickly enough to keep even the most attention deficit viewers (myself included) entertained throughout. Director DJ Caruso frames the suspense well and uses the hand held camcorders carried by the characters to give the film a claustrophobic feel to some of the tensest scenes. It's too bad the ending turns into standard teenage slasher film fare.
The DVD itself is loaded with extras like commentary tracks, a "making of" documentary, deleted scenes & outtakes, and a Pop-Up trivia option that lets you watch the film and read interesting tidbits like "Actor Matt Craven starred with Kevin Bacon in A Few Good Men, and "Because I Got High" by Afroman reached #13 on the Billboard hot 100. I honestly thought it ranked higher. I'm glad they cleared that up for me.