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Reviewing the Reviews: 'Disturbia'

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Shia_l

Shia_lWhile the plot similarities between this weekend’s new thriller Disturbia and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (weren’t trailers so much better back in the day?) are too obvious to go unnoticed — certainly not by the nation’s film critics — the real question for audiences is whether the Shia LaBeouf (pictured) vehicle is solid enough on its own merits to warrant the price of admission, or if it’s so derivative that you’d be better off getting reacquainted with the beloved James Stewart-Grace Kelly classic from the comfort of your couch. Depends on who you ask, really, as a roundup of newspaper reviews from across the country reveals. (EW’s own Owen Gleiberman gives it a B-).

Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times: “If you think D.J. Caruso’s Disturbia sounds more than a bit like a suburban teen version of the 1954 Hitchcock classic Rear Window, you’re right. And while that comparison is a fight so unfair it’s not worth taking on (suffice to say that Rear Window is one of the greatest films ever made, and those who haven’t seen it should drop this newspaper immediately and hasten to the nearest video store, for heaven’s sake), Disturbia turns out to be a mildly pleasant surprise.”

Michael Booth, Denver Post: “This worthy film openly honors Hitchcock’s work in Rear Window without merely ripping it off — kind of like a bold director updating a Shakespeare play in a contemporary setting. Done well, it works.”

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: “Disturbia is certainly not the first movie to rip off Rear Window, and it won’t be the last… But instead of leaving you lamenting the lack of creativity and originality in the film industry, this modest, playful thriller puts you in a forgiving mood.”

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: “This shameless rip of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Rear Window is product with a capital ‘P,’ as much as the Red Bull, Twinkies, iPods and Xboxes that are relentlessly hustled throughout it. Yet… while Disturbia does nothing to advance or honour Hitchcock, the movie succeeds on its modest terms, if you don’t tax too many brain cells in parsing its mammoth logic gaps.”

addCredit(“Disturbia: Everett Collection”)

Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle:”If you’re going to appropriate a plotline, better it be a classicinstead of the stupid kind. Although the filmmakers haven’t improved onHitchcock, they’ve made some imaginative changes — the Jimmy Stewartcharacter is a teenager named Kale — and produced an eminentlywatchable thriller with built-in appeal to teens.”

Paige Wiser, Chicago Sun-Times: “This homage to the classic is so savvy and fun that Hitchcock purists shouldn’t dare to complain.”

James Verniere, Boston Herald:”As Kale’s comic-moronic sidekick Ronnie, Aaron Yoo is appealing anddeserves a bigger shot. Still, give me Hitch, James Stewart, GraceKelly and Thelma Ritter any day. Please.”

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: “Directed by D.J. Caruso (The Salton Sea)with all the gaudy gadgetry and Hitchcockian models at his disposal,it’s a movie full of high-tech shocks, suburban high school comedy (ofa sub-John Hughes variety) and violent suspense set-pieces. It’s fairlywell-made, in a shallow but sometimes scintillating way, and youthfulstars LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, and Aaron Yoo are watchable and lively.But it didn’t work too well for me, and one of the reasons is that I’dalready seen an older, better version of this story: Hitchcock’s 1954 Rear Window.”

Jeff Strickler, Minneapolis Star Tribune: “Disturbia is a highly caffeinated variation on Rear Window.The premise is the same, but the telling rejects Alfred Hitchcock’sclassic pacing for the supercharged plotting of a modern-day teenagethriller.”

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: “This film… takes Alfred Hitchcock’s great Rear Windowconceit, that we’re all voyeurs when we go to the movies, and ratchetsit up for a more plugged-in age. What is privacy to kids who revealtheir deepest secrets, or dishonest versions of them, to MySpace, kidsgrowing up in a world of security cameras and Internet securitybreaches?”

Kevin Williamson, London [Ontario] Free Press: “Consider Disturbia,then, a stylishly saucy thriller for film-goers whose idea of aHitchcockian mystery is who fathered Anna Nicole Smith’s baby.”

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