House Arrest, although seemingly a well intentioned comedy, is overly simplistic and falls flat. Janet and Ned Beindorf (Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak) are separating after 18 years of marriage. Their children, Grover and Stacy, are distraught and hatch a plan to get their parents back together. They lock them in the basement! Laughing yet? And, going full blast with the theory more is better, Grover’s friends soon deliver their parents to the dungeon cell (including Wallace Shawn, Christopher McDonald and Jennifer Tilly). While the parents bicker about their differences and plot escapes, the kids (including the school bully, who decides to hang out with the losers for a change) are having a fine old time partying about upstairs with no worries about parental supervision. And, although the kids come to the realization that simply locking people up might not solve all their problems, would a comedy like this go for a sad ending? All of this makes for some decent escapist fare for the pre- and early teen set, but how many parents want to give their kids “punishing the adults” ideas? None of the kids seem to have terribly strong acting skills, and Grover in particular whines a bit too much as their leader. The parents have some better actors, but are mostly relegated to bitter arguing and lame slapstick performances. When watching this film, you feel more trapped than the parents, and escape comes none too soon.
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