THE GLASS HOUSE is an entertaining thriller that almost works. Using a
predictable script by Wesley Strick (THE SAINT), long-time television director
Daniel Sackheim brings a strong sense of visual style and foreboding. The
formulaic film is shot in the cool blue tones that are all the rage today in
"The simplest thing is the hardest to see," Mrs. Baker (Rita Wilson) advises her
daughter Ruby (Leelee Sobieski). Although she is talking about Ruby's
sketching, this advice obviously is meant for the audience. The problem with
the script is that most of the plot "twists" are both simple and easy to spot.
When the writer worries that things aren't completely obvious, he inserts the
visual equivalent of exclamation points to make sure we understand. One
character punctures all the tires on a car. Although it is clear who did it and
why, the writer has to have her come out and stand by the car. And just in case
we still don't get it, he has her drop a hidden knife on the ground with a loud
Ruby is a mildly rebellious 16-year-old girl. She can barely tolerate her
11-year-old, video game playing brother, Rhett (Trevor Morgan). She claims that
the only thing they share are "common genes."
The kids' world is quickly shattered when their parents die in a car accident.
They go to live with their long-time friends and ex-neighbors, the Glass family,
Terry and Erin (Diane Lane and Stellan Skarsgård). The Glasses live in -- yes,
you guessed it -- a big, glass house. Even the car dealership that Terry owns
is made with the same modernistic glass-and-steel construction. When he gets
angry, Terry likes to break glasses. Thankfully, the glass metaphor ends there.
When the killers look for murder weapons, they don't go for slivers of glass.
The squabbling siblings are the most believable part of the picture. When their
new guardians force the two kids to share the same bedroom in the Glass's
monster-sized house, Ruby lays down the law to Rhett. If he dares even glance
at her while she's changing, he's toast.
Ruby soon learns that the Glasses aren't the sweet couple they once were when
the two families used to vacation together in Hawaii. Erin, a doctor in a
hospital's pain management program, manages her own "pain" nightly with drug
injections, turning herself into a zombie. Terry is heavily in debt, and some
unsavory characters are looking to call in his loan. Did I mention yet that the
kids come with a big inheritance? Doesn't matter. Even if I didn't, I'm sure
you've already guessed it.
"Hi, you guys need some help?" a friendly sheriff asks the kids. "Yes," Ruby
replies with succinct understatement. The writer needed some help too, but he
didn't get it. The director, however, does his best to keep your attention and
THE GLASS HOUSE runs 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for "sinister thematic elements,
violence, drug content and language," and would be acceptable for kids around 12
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes