House Arrest is a film that stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Kevin Pollak. The film boasts a very thorough supporting cast in Christopher McDonald, Wallace Shawn, Jennifer Tilly, Ben Stein, and an up and coming Jennifer Love Hewitt.
High-schooler Grover Beindorf and his younger sister Stacy decide that their parents, Janet and Ned, are acting childishly when they decide to divorce after 18 years of marriage, so they lock them up in the basement until they'll sort out their problems. Their school friends also decide to do the same with their parents to solve their respective problems.
The film was released on August 14, 1996 and went on to gross only over six million dollars at the box office. The film was panned by many critics which could explain its low take at the box office.
The film was shot at various locations in the U.S. states of California and Ohio. Monrovia, California was the location for several exterior house scenes while most interior shots were done at the CBS/Radford lot in Studio City, California. The story was set in Defiance, Ohio, although another town, Chagrin Falls, Ohio, actually doubled for it. (However, they really did film the final scenes in Hawaii...)
Tropes found in House Arrest:
- Adults Are Useless: Enforced by the main character, Grover, after he locks his parents in the basement.
- Air-Vent Passageway: One of the adults tries to do this. It fails.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Brooke's mother, Cindy, acts more like a teenager than a mother and regularly horns in on any gatherings.
- Amicable Exes: According to the epilogue, Donald and Gwenna divorce, but after Gwenna gets her law degree, the two start a firm. What little we see of it indicates they get along much better as business partners than as spouses.
- Big Damn Kiss: A somewhat lengthy one between Grover and Brooke at the end. To applause from the cafeteria.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Grover has a crush on the hottest, most popular girl in school.
- Dance Party Ending: Behind most of the end credits (followed by a song from Jennifer Love Hewitt).
- Divorce Is Temporary: Janet and Ned's problems miraculously disappear by the end of the movie and suddenly they love each other again.
- Discreet Drink Disposal: At the dinner table when the kids try alcohol for the first time.
- Dumbass Has a Point: Much is made of Cindy's clothes and behavior, but she's the one who quite loudly points out how badly Donald treats Gwenna. This ends up instigating Gwenna asserting herself.
- Hard Truth Aesop: While most of the parent's issues get happily resolved, Donald and Gwenna do not find any common ground to save their marriage, and in the end they do get divorced. In a movie that mostly plays for escapism for children, Donald and Gwenna's failed marriage shows that in some cases there just isn't any love there and some relationships just aren't healthy, and its best (for most of the people involved, at least) if they part ways.
- Jerkass: TJ at first, but then he later befriends Grover, gaining respect for his attempts to save his parents' marriage. Also, Donald.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Seriously, Donald may be a prick, but wouldn't you be pissed too if your own kids locked you in a basement for days? He has every right to be angry and want to sue!
- Laser-Guided Karma: Averted. The kids end up in juvie, not even prison although they locked their parents in the basement and threatened not to feed them until they got along. Yes, T.J's family which consists of two lawyers definitely helped, but the kids got off with an extremely light sentence and none of them were tried as adults!
- Karma Houdini: Averted. The kids had to spend one night in juvenile hall after locking their parents in the basement and practicing psychotherapy without a license, which isn't really that big a punishment (though it's stated they would have remained there longer if T.J's mom hadn't forced his dad to bail them out).
- Kids Raiding the Wine Cabinet: The kids raid the Beindorfs' wine cabinet during the obligatory Wild Teen Party. When Mrs. Beindorf finds out about it, she yells at them so loudly that they shut down the party immediately.
- Momma's Boy: TJ wants in on all this because he's sick of his father treating his mother like dirt.
- Only Sane Man: Chief Rocco. He tries and fails numerous times to see what's going on at the Bindorf house so much that you're actually rooting for him by the end of the movie.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Grover's actions border along sociopathic. He even threatens to not feed the parents until they start getting along. But we're rooting for him because true love!
- Sequel Hook: "Oh by the way, our parents made us promise to never lock them in the basement again. We promised. But then again there's always the attic!"
- Serial Spouse: Matt's father, Vic. He's been married multiple times and none of the marriages lasted more than two years. Matt's motivation is breaking this cycle.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: For all of their antics, the kids actually get arrested since they did technically kidnap their parents. They do manage to get off with a lighter sentence though.
- Tantrum Throwing: Grover, when he finds out his mom filed for divorce.
- Took a Level in Badass: TJ's mom. After being belittled one too many times not only does she start getting even with her husband. She is also the reason why the kids get a lighter sentence.
- Too Dumb to Live: Ned and Janet in the beginning. They were about to be released, but then they started arguing and ended up causing the rest of the duration of the movie. While it's definitely not their fault their kids locked them in the basement, all they had to do was pretend to get along for a few measly minutes and then punish their kids for what they did!
- Tropical Epilogue: After Janet and Ned rekindle their love, they, Grover, and Stacy take a trip to Hawaii.
- Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Cindy and Brooke Figler. Brooke is always complaining about how her mom is trying to emulate her.
- Wham Line: "Oh, I'm nailing the door shut!" Later on, "Who sent the divorce papers?"