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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that House Arrest is a 2019 Indian romantic comedy in which a man who no longer leaves his apartment falls for a journalist sent to interview him. There's some profanity, including "motherf---er" and "f--k." The lead character's best friend is known to get women drunk in order to sleep with them, and suggests to his ex-girlfriend that he sleeps with her and her best friend. Characters shown on the verge of having sex, then shown afterwards discussing what just happened. Neighbor offers to have sex with the lead character in exchange for storing a suspicious box. This box contains a man who is taped up and bubble-wrapped inside; when he escapes the box and starts screaming, lead character knocks him unconscious by hitting him in the head with a fire extinguisher. Cigarette smoking.
What's the story?
For the past nine months, Karan (Ali Fazal) has chosen to remain exclusively within the confines of his apartment as if he were on HOUSE ARREST. He conducts his work and orders his food online and spends the rest of his time cleaning his immaculate apartment and observing the behavior of his neighbors in the apartment building across the way. Expressing concern for his well-being, Karan's best friend, a womanizer named J.D. (Jim Sarbh), tells Karan that a journalist named Saira would like to do a story about his life. Meanwhile, Karan's demanding neighbor, a young woman named Pinky who's always shadowed by her enormous bodyguard "Rambo," has asked that Karan store a pink box in his apartment. Saira pays Karan a visit, and the two discuss Karan's dalliance with what the Japanese call "hikikomori" -- shutting oneself off from society. An instant attraction and connection forms, but this immediate connection is frayed when both learn that J.D. had less noble intentions when bringing the pair together and when the contents of the mysterious pink box are revealed. While not wanting any of these intrusions on his solitude, Karan must decide to either continue his hermetic lifestyle or leave his apartment in the hopes of finding love.
Is it any good?
This film starts off with an interesting and timely concept but fizzles out. The lead character, Karan, has opted to live his life completely within the confines of his apartment, avoiding social interaction in pursuit of peace and tranquility. Aside from receiving food deliveries, conducting his business online, and talking on the phone with his best friend, Karan has cut himself off from the world even while living in a large city. It's an interesting premise for a romcom, but the premise of House Arrest ultimately gets short-circuited by resorting to the cliches of romcom stock characters and ludicrous but not-funny side stories.
This premise is also ultimately constrained by its limitations. While the apartment is an incredible testament to the glories of interior design done right, it overshadows the lead character's focus on living a hermetic lifestyle. And while the movie tries to counterbalance the dragging narrative with the lead character's lecherous best friend and something involving a screaming man kept taped and bubble-wrapped inside a small box (who somehow doesn't die of suffocation), none of this really overcomes the limitations of a man living more or less in solitary confinement.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about romantic comedies. How does House Arrest compare to other romantic comedies you've seen?
How does the movie explore the current social phenomenon of "urban isolation," or of people choosing to scorn all social contact outside of the internet while not leaving their homes?
Why do you think the best friends of lead characters in romantic comedies tend to be opposites of the lead characters?
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