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Overall Rating

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Just Average64.29%
Pretty Crappy: 14.29%
Sucks: 16.67%

5 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Lakeview Terrace
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by Mel Valentin

"Incoherent half-exploitation, half-serious neighbor-from-hell flick."
3 stars

Writer-director Neil LaBute ("The Shape of Things," "Possession," "Nurse Betty," "Your Friends & Neighbors," "In the Company of Men"), hoping to recover from the (richly deserved) critical and commercial drubbing he received for his last effort (ďeffortĒ might be too strong a word to describe an abject failure, though), "Wicker Man," a misogynistic remake of the 1973 horror classic starring Nicholas Cage at his absolute best, is back with "Lakeview Terrace," a generic thriller masquerading as an earnest examination of race and interracial relationships in modern-day Los Angeles (itís anything but). Minus occasional flashes of insight and convincing performances by the three lead actors, "Lakeview Terrace" is an ultimately disappointing, desultory effort, especially from a controversy-courting filmmaker who once seemed obsessed with deconstructing gender relationships and contemporary notions of masculinity through his work.

Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa Mattson (Kerry Washington), an interracial couple (heís Caucasian, sheís African-American), move into their starter home in a rapidly gentrifying Los Angeles neighborhood. Lisaís father, Harold Perreau (Ron Glass), a wealthy businessman, wanted to help Chris and Lisa ďmoreĒ house, but they refused. While theyíre looking forward to settling into their new home and possibly starting a family, their next-door neighbor, Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), an LA police officer with 28 years on the force, isnít as thrilled with Chris and Lisa as his new neighbors. An old-school authoritarian with rigid ideas about race, Turner takes an instant dislike to Chris and Lisa. A single fatr (and widower), Turner is also having trouble with his headstrong teen daughter, Celia (Regine Nehy), and to a lesser extent, his preteen son, Marcus (Jaishon Fisher), who tends to follow Celiaís lead.

On patrol with his partner, Javier Villareal (Jay Hernandez), Turnerís temper gets the better of him. While the mistreatment of a suspect leads to an investigation involving internal affairs, Turnerís relationship with Chris and Lisa begins to deteriorate. What starts off as a dispute over floodlights on Turnerís property quickly leads to a series of arguments and altercations, each one more disturbing than the last, each one intended to force Chris and Lisa to move. As Turner pressures Chris and Lisa, their relationship begins to show signs of strain. As Turner and the Mattsons head for the inevitable confrontation, a quickly approaching wildfire threatens everyoneís homes in the Lakeview Terrace neighborhood.

Working from a screenplay by David Loughery and Howard Korder that takes itself too seriously to be considered a minimally engaging genre film and not seriously enough to add anything but the most obvious of insights to the racial issues it purports to examine, LaBute seems at a loss in handling material he has little affinity for. While Loughery and Korderís screenplay works to slowly build tension and suspense from Turnerís mental and emotional deterioration as his prejudices, biases, and negatives experiences conflict with the outside world (all good actually), that all breaks down when we get the obligatory one-line explanation for Turnerís increasingly reprehensible behavior toward Chris and Lisa. That one line of reductive psychological explanation undermines whatever good will Loughery and Korderís script had built up to that point.

The real letdown occurs once "Lakeview Terrace" stumbles into the third act, when genre conventions take over. Turnerís sympathetic, if deeply troubled, cop turns into the monster the audience has been expecting from the first moment he spies his new neighbors. Out goes any semblance of logic or reason, and in comes a mean-eyed Samuel L. Jackson ready to wreak havoc. It only gets worse from there: a formulaic stand-off apparently lifted from an earlier, even more generic iteration of a similar idea, "Unlawful Entry," a 1992 psycho-cop/thriller film starring Kurt Russell, Madeline Stowe, and a typecast Ray Liotta as the psycho-cop. Itís as unsatisfying as "Unlawful Entry" was forgettable. Then again, fifteen or sixteen years from now, itís unlikely "Lakeview Terrace" will be remembered as a footnote in Samuel L. Jacksonís overstuffed "curriculum vitae."

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17046&reviewer=402
originally posted: 09/19/08 04:34:29
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell realistic but nothing special 3 stars
1/30/10 randy todger pretty good 4 stars
7/28/09 mr.mike Worth seeing....on Starz. 4 stars
6/02/09 aliceinwonderland Amusing Thriller, good acting. 3 stars
1/31/09 action movie fan good idea with some tense scenes but not the rising line needed for effectiveness 3 stars
1/24/09 Jon G woulda got 4 if it didnt pull the race card 3 stars
12/31/08 Man Out 6 Bucks Miscast Jackson 90% chillin & not Eastwood. Overly agitated Chris oozes Berkeley PC hubris 3 stars
12/20/08 Shaun Wallner Not as great as I thought it was gonna be 3 stars
12/19/08 Bubdylan Well, SOME black cops like Abel do exist. Saying so doesn't make it racist. 3 stars
12/05/08 Jack Sommersby A third-rate rendition of the second-rate "Unlawful Entry". 1 stars
11/04/08 damalc excellent acting all around, but kinda preposterous 3 stars
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  19-Sep-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Jan-2009


  DVD: 27-Jan-2009

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