Release Date(s)2017 (August 14, 2018)
Studio(s)Superlative Films (Shout! Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: C+
After writing and directing short films for several years, Peter Livolsi has his first go-around as a writer and director with The House of Tomorrow. It’s a dramatic comedy about two teenage boys, Sebastian (Asa Butterfield) and Jared (Alex Wolff). Sebastian lives with his grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) in complete isolation in a geodesic home called “The House of Tomorrow” and has grown weary of being sheltered from the world after meeting Jared and his sister Meredith (Maude Apatow). Jared, a rebellious punk rocker who constantly fights with his father, is the complete opposite of Sebastian, but somehow opposites attract and the two manage to become friends.
Based upon Peter Bognanni’s novel of the same name, The House of Tomorrow is an amusing but lackluster film. It seems to get lost in subplots at times, which are more or less forgotten about on down the line. However, it never comes across as amateurish. The performances from the entire cast are perfectly fine. Asa Butterfield and Alex Wolff are excellent, as are Ellen Burstyn and Nick Offerman, who are also executive producers on the film. It’s effective to see a decent kid like Sebastian take such a downward spiral, but it also feels highly realistic. The transformation of a teenage character’s personality has obviously been done before, but it’s executed well here. It’s like an after school TV special, but with a much darker edge.
Shout! Factory debuts The House of Tomorrow on Blu-ray in an excellent package. Outside of the film’s opening which looks like it’s been taken from a VHS source, the picture quality thereafter is phenomenal with the crisp and vivid colors. They also seem to be on the cool side as interiors and clothing appear darker, but still robust. Skin tones are accurate with excellent detail in close-ups while black levels look well-balanced with no signs of crush. As for the audio, English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD tracks are available and they both sound crystal clear. Both dialogue and score comes through strong without any issues. The 5.1 track is a bit more intense by comparison, particularly when the punk rock music kicks in. Optional subtitles in English SDH are included as well.
There are also a few decent extras in this package. There’s an audio commentary with writer/director Peter Livolsi and cast members Asa Butterfield, Alex Wolf, and Maude Apatow, who share their stories about the making of the film; Ellen Burstyn in Conversation with Peter Livolsi, an interesting back-and-forth discussion about the film; NYC Premiere Q&A, which features Burstyn, Butterfield, Wolff, Apatow, Livolsi, and moderator Alison Bailes; and a theatrical trailer.
Every director has to start somewhere and The House of Tomorrow is a good start for Peter Livolsi. This offbeat film is certainly worth taking a look at and kudos to Shout! Factory for giving it a nice presentation on home video.
- David Steigman