Lakeview Terrace

It's only sort of a terrace, and there's no lake around anywhere that I could see, but that's the name of the place. And the movie isn't actually the action-packed, how-will-they-survive thriller the previews imply, either. But Samuel L. Jackson lives on Lakeview Terrace with his teenage daughter and pre-teen son, his wife having died some years earlier. He's an LA patrol officer, and he aims to keep his street clean if it kills you. Other than that, it seems like a nice place to live.

Young marrieds Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson, soon to be in Watchmen; and Kerry Washington, Alicia Masters from the Fantastic Four movies) have just moved into this dubious paradise, taking the house next door to Abel Turner's. (That's Samuel L. Jackson, with beard and shaven head this time. He still has his own personal hair stylist listed in the credits, though, so that little beard must require lots of attention. Or maybe it's the shaving of the head. Anyway.) Abel is a weird guy, and everyone seems to know it, but like the neighbors and friends of a newly unmasked serial killer, they seem to take it in stride and assume he's a decent guy underneath it all. But he's something of a control freak, and is utterly convinced that he's right even if the rest of the world disagrees with him. Maybe especially if the rest of the world disagrees. That's good if you're Galileo, maybe, but not so much these days.

Abel doesn't like Chris and Lisa, or more precisely, doesn't like that they're of different racial backgrounds. Chris is blond and pale, you see, especially when compared to his African-American wife. Abel's barbed comments and not so subtle disapproval put a strain on the marriage, especially when Abel starts in with the lights shining into their bedroom at night and the breaking in to their garage. But his neighbors like their house and they're not ready to move yet. Who can blame them, with the economy the way it is? So they tough it out, and of course things escalate, and nothing works out well for anyone, basically.

Samuel L. Jackson is a great actor. There's very little he can't make work. But there were still times when I felt kind of embarrassed for him in this flick. The writers were apparently not quite sure if they wanted to make him a misunderstood victim, overreacting to the bad hand dealt him by life; or just a creepy, psychotic sort of person who wants to impose his particular brand of order on the world. So sometimes he's one, sometimes the other, and while that might have made everything more realistic, somehow it just didn't quite work.

But he's still Samuel L. Jackson, for heaven's sake, so it still gets three idols. If it seems shaky in places, it's still a solid movie overall -- probably more solid than the rebuilt hillside on which all those expensive houses are perched. Again, don't go into the theatre expecting lots of violence and people hunting each other down with guns -- that's there, but it's minor until the end when everything explodes. It also isn't any kind of scathing look at modern race relations -- that's always lurking, but not quite the focus. Like Abel, it's never quite all one thing or the other, which is a little annoying sometimes, but at least it keeps things interesting, just like your weird neighbors. We've all got those, but fortunately they're not all Samuel.

When Samuel L. Jackson looks like that, just nod and agree. Nod and agree.


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Exactly where did you get the

Exactly where did you get the techniques to publish ““Lakeview Terrace | The Movie Critic Next Door”?
Thanks Glenda

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