Tuesday, June 29, 2010

'Very Bad Things' is either
very clever or very dumb

Very Bad Thngs (1998)
Starring: Christian Slater, Jon Favreau, Cameron Diaz, Jeremy Piven, and Daniel Stern
Director: Peter Berg
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

When a prostitute is accidentally killed at a bachelor party, self-help course fanatic (and closet psychopath) Boyd (Slater) convinces the five friends in attendance to cover up her death. As the wedding day approaches, one of the five (Stern) starts cracking under the guilt of what they did, and things go from bad to very bad. With the wedding threatened, Kyle (Favreau) soon learns that the only person in his life more deadly and crazy than Boyd is Laura, his bride to be (Diaz).

"Very Bad Things" is a black comedy that's either very clever or very dumb. As the end credits started to roll, I found myself asking, "Okay... what exactly was the point of that?"

Either the filmmakers wanted to tell a story where the moral was "karma's a bitch" because almost everyone who finds themselves dead, maimed, or otherwise hosed have somehow previously wronged someone or been immoral; or maybe the story's lesson was about what happens to otherwise civilized people when they decide to treat murder casually. Whatever the point of the story, I'm not sure I got it.

Nonetheless, the film had a snappy, funny script--assuming one can laugh at multiple murders and the total breakdown of human decency-- with plenty of interesting and well-acted characters (with the exception of Jeremy Piven... I'd describe his performance more as annoying than funny or believable). The best moments in the film went to Cameron Diaz, though, as she transformed from a high-strung bride-to-be, to a shrew, and beyond... until she too gets her just desserts in the film's final moments.

I enjoyed "Very Bad Things", and uttered evil chuckles as the chaotic events of this dark movie unfolded, but the mild confusion I felt when it ended makes me wonder if I "got it," and this costs the film a point on my rating scale.

Anyone out there care to tell me what I missed? I really wanted to like this movie a lot more than I ultimately did.


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