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The Glass House

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Glass House

Starring: Leelee Sobieski, Stellan Skarsgard
Director: Daniel Sackheim
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 111 Minutes
Release Date: September 2001
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Trevor Morgan, Diane Lane, Kip Pardue, Rita Wilson, Christopher Noth, Michael O'Keefe, Bruce Dern

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
3.  Susan Granger read the review movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
4.  Harvey Karten read the review ---
5.  Edward Johnson-Ott read the review movie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

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 movie mysteries.

"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 crash.

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 generally succeeds.

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 and up.

Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes

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