Disturbia (2007)

Rated: PG-13 Grade: A-CDB=B+

Directed by: D.J. Caruso, who has previously directed episodes of The Shield, Dark Angel, and Smallville as well as the movies Two for the Money and Salton Sea.

Starring: Shia LaBoeuf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, and Aaron Yoo.

Summary: After suffering a shocking death of his father, Kale becomes a problem student who eventually is put on house arrest for punching a teacher. While there, he starts spying on his neighbors, developing a crush on the new neighbor girl and deep suspicions about another neighbor being a serial killer.

Entertainment Value: A- This was very entertaining. I wouldn’t call it great, but it definitely kept me guessing and made me want to keep watching. For whatever reason, I had thought the star was Elijah Wood rather than Shia Leboeuf. No matter. If you like mystery thrillers, this is a fairly good one.

Superficial Content: C Drugs/Alcohol: A, Sexuality C, Violence D, Language C, Illegality C. The premise of the movie is spying on neighbors, so that’s a bit creepy. There are a few sexual situations, and a teenage boy with binoculars will choose to look at what, do you think? His hot neighbor undressing and swimming. But it’s still PG-13, perhaps PG-15 only for scary stuff. And yes, there is some scary stuff, but not a ton of it, although there are some pretty creepy images. Also, some young neighbor kids leave a bag of flaming feces on the porch as a prank and later are shown in their rooms watching pirated porn films.

Significant Content: D This is a movie about someone misbehaving, getting caught for it, acting like a brat even afterwards, and then spying on his neighbors. In the end this gets him the girl he spies on and unintentionally resolves some questions he has about his other neighbor. So it’s hard to find praiseworthy behavior anywhere in this movie. The whole of suburbia is a cesspool of hypocrisy and subterfuge from bad marriages to adultery to potentially much worse. And cops are foolishly motivated by personal revenge.

Artistic/Thought Value: B Very clever. And David Morse, as always, is a genius as an actor. This movie does exactly what it’s supposed to do: it keeps you guessing and it keeps you tense pretty much the whole way through. One note, I had real trouble watching Carrie Anne-Moss of Trinity fame in the Matrix playing a suburban housemom.

Discussion Questions:

  • Why does this movie have the title, Disturbia? What is the point of the movie concerning the suburbs?
  • Are most neighborhoods really this dysfunctional, in your opinion? Why do we enjoy exaggerated portrayals of reality like this?
  • Have you ever been suspicious of your neighbors? What did you do about it?
  • Is it healthy for people to spy on their neighbors? Is it immoral? Are people entitled to their privacy, even if they don’t take special precautions like closing the blinds?
  • When Kale punches his teacher, do you think he did anything wrong? Would it matter in your answer whether you think the teacher knew about his father’s death or not?
  • Does this movie wind up endorsing or criticizing the concept of things like neighborhood watches?
  • Generally speaking, should we be more or less trusting of our neighbors than we already are?
  • How much leeway and forgiveness should be given to teens who suffer a tragic loss like Kale did with his father?
Overall Grade: B+ It’s not Hitchcock, but it’s not a bad effort, either.

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