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Under Pressure Reviews

Anyone who's ever argued with a neighbor over a parking space will get a few frissons out of this suburban nightmare. The Bravertons are a disorganized but loving family who live next door to a domestic control freak, Lyle Wilder (Charles Sheen). Having driven away his own family, this L.A. firefighter hero aims his bible-thumping rancor at his noisy neighbors. The white-picket-fence war of nerves escalates after little Zach Braverton (Noah Fleiss) breaks Lyle's window with a remote control airplane. Driven batty by insomnia, Lyle harangues Mrs. Braverton (Mare Winningham) about child-rearing. After slaying the Braverton's Asian-American repairman (Keone Long) and the two investigating policemen, Lyle invades the Braverton domicile where he uses Russian Roulette as a teaching tool. Cleverly pretending to be Lyle's ex-wife, Mrs. Braverton placates delusional Lyle long enough to grab his pistol and blow him away. Could a kernel of justifiable homicide rest in Lyle's mania? Sure, he indefensibly lets a woman fry in a burning crack den simply because he doesn't approve of her drug addiction, but those Braverton kids are unruly brats. With a modicum of style, director Craig Baxley might have seized on the Bravertons' irritating habits and satirized the downside of suburbia, where an unkempt lawn might incite a riot from the garden patrol. But director Craig R. Baxley is never able to strike a balance between mining thrills from Lyle's ranting behavior and sending up block-party bullying. Sheen's performance is no help: He neither lampoons nor humanizes Lyle's rage. (Where's Judd Nelson when you need him?) While break-ins from the psychopath next door are upsetting, it's equally scary that this flick holds up the smug, sloppy Bravertons as an all-American ideal. Martha Stewart would know just what to do with these people.