A bland, sitcom-ish film that has somehow gained a bit of a cult following in the years since its release, "House Arrest" takes a plot with a mild amount of potential and manages to do very little with it. The film stars Kyle Howard and Amy Sakasitz as Grover and Amy Beindorf, two children who have begun to realize that their parents, Ned (Kevin Pollock) and Janet (Jamie Lee Curtis) are about to divorce. Aware of a better time when they showed more affection towards one another, the two children manage to lock their parents in the basement in order to force them to sort out their differences.
The local kids hear about what Grover and Amy did and decide that their parents could use some therapy, as well. Soon enough, the basement is getting more and more crowded, while the kids have taken over the upstairs. The only thing is that the other kids see the situation as a punishment for their parents, while Grover and Amy only wanted to help.
Where there could have been some genuinely clever situations within a film like this, the filmmakers have decided to string the film together using such uninspired scenes as a food fight in the kitchen and dull bathroom humor. There's little insight and what emotion the film does bring to the table doesn't seem very genuine. Some very good adult actors (Wallace Shawn, Curtis, Pollack) are stuck with some very mediocre characters. The kids are the unfortunate focus throughout the film and, with the exception of a sweet performance from Jennifer Love Hewitt, none of them give a very engaging effort.
VIDEO: The first thing I noticed after picking up the box for this title, I was distinctly displeased to see that this film is not presented in anamorphic widescreen - instead, it is shown in 1.33:1 pan & scan. If that wasn't bad enough, the picture quality of this presentation is absolutely awful. HBO is responsible for this DVD edition and it positively looks as if it was transfered from someone's video copy. The picture has three stages - soft, softer and softest, the last of which has the image practically looking blurry.
The list of faults doesn't end there. Edge enhancement is present and although not consistently visible, is irritating when it is. Pixelation, some annoying shimmering and print flaws all team up to give an already soft picture a rough, digital appearance. Colors look rather smeary throughout, as well. Given the fact that this is certainly not an old film (about 7 years old at this point) and DVD presentations are getting better and better each day, it's amazing that a studio could even release a presentation this dismal looking.
SOUND: "House Arrest" was presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in theaters. As the picture quality on this DVD is hugely dissapointing, so is the audio. Presented only in stereo, the soundtrack is bare basics, with weakly delivered music and dialogue that can sound rough.
MENUS: Very basic film-themed images serve as backgrounds.
Final Thoughts: Certainly, this isn't a great film, but few films deserve a DVD this weak. The picture quality is terrible, the sound dissapointing and the extras minimal. Not recommended.