The Brunching Shuttlecocks Features

Panic Room

As the years go by, it becomes ever more obvious that we, as a people, are becoming total wimps.

Everything is kid-proof, idiot-proof, lowest-common-denominator-proof, it's sickening. And now, Hollywood has glamorized the latest in home security, the Panic Room.

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, my panic room was four white, padded walls with a rusty drain in the center.

But then you may have had a different childhood than I.

Today, however, panic rooms are all the rage. Everybody who is anybody has their own panic room. People throw open panic room parties, worry about proper panic room décor, rent them out for the extra income, you name it, they're doing it.

So what is a panic room? A room in your house that can be totally sealed off from the outside, impenetrable. The ultimate safe-house. And a pretty cool movie.

The director of Se7en, Fight Club and, let's not forget, Alien 3, brings us Panic Room. Jodie Foster buys a big house in New York, moves in with her daughter, and gets burgled on her first night.

Three bumbling stooges (I call them bumbling because, well, they bumble) break into the house, and Jodie and her daughter hide in the panic room. The bumblers want to get into the panic room. Jodie won't let them into the panic room. Hence the drama.

You gotta give Jodie Foster credit - she kicks ass, and without her, this movie would really and truly be utterly lame. Of the bumblers, only Forest Whitaker holds his own as an actor. The daughter does her best work when she's on the verge of death- otherwise she pales in comparison to Jodie. But then, who doesn't?

Panic Room is a fine thriller. It has fine thrills. A surprising variety of them considering the entire premise centers around two people locking themselves into an impenetrable fortress until help can arrive. But there's spills, chills, frills, it's a regular e-ticket ride.

You know, I just realized that people will read the phrase "e-ticket" and assume I'm talking about getting airfare over the internet. How sad is that?

Anyway, one thing Panic Room has in spades is nifty camera stuff. For some reason, probably since he realized that there really isn't all that much one can do with one room, the director spins a creative web of camera movement. We go through walls, into keyholes, through the handles of coffee pots, etc. One wonders where they found a 35mm camera small enough to enter a nasal passage. Ah, the joys of modern movie making.

I would also like to point out the joys of modern movie writing. The first five or so minutes of this film are rather striking. Basically, Jodie and her daughter are shown the house by a realtor, and decide to buy it. Along the way, through some very well-done writing, they teach us who these characters are, what they want, what they're feeling, the history of the house, the former owners, and more. All without any exposition of which to speak. Just lines of dialogue used to their fullest.


Amidst this brilliant writing, is a blatant bit of lame Hollywoodism. They also, in this first five minutes, give the entire plot away. We know what people are going to break into the house. We know what they're going to be looking for. We know where they're going to find it. There is absolutely no need to waste this info in the first five minutes! Come on, people! Give the audience a chance to be surprised! Have faith in your audience! Please!! Pretty-Please!!

Who am I kidding. We're all cattle and vermin as far as they are concerned.

How sad.

Panic Room gets a warm and fuzzy 3 4/5 Babylons. Certainly a worthwhile flick, but it really could have been better. But then, what movie, aside from Babe, isn't lacking a certain something?

Editor's Note:

Is there something wrong with Forest Whitaker's eye? I don't seem to remember his left eye being so droopy. Unnerving.

Panic Room
Rated: R
Directed By: David Fincher
Starring: Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker, Jared Leto, Dwight Yoakam, Kristen Stewart and a really well-furnished closet, perfect for stalking.

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