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Very Bad Things

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Very Bad Things

Starring: Christian Slater, Cameron Diaz
Director: Peter Berg
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: November 1998
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Daniel Stern, Jon Favreau, Jeremy Piven, Leland Orser, Jeanne Tripplehorn

Review by David Wilcock
1½ stars out of 4

Oh, the puns available for this one! "This is a very bad film." "The title is right, this film is a very bad thing." "The only very bad things are the actors." But sadly none will apply. While Very Bad Things is far from perfect, it does offer some entertainment value. The story centres around a motley crew of five guys who accidentally kill a prostitute during a stag night. After burying her in the desert, they slowly start to go crazy, and Robert Boyd (Slater) starts getting rid of all the people who might know anything about the murder.

Very Bad Things is an admirable attempt to bring gruesome horror and humour to a movie, but something went wrong along the way. Perhaps it's the actors. Jon Favreau, Slater, Daniel Stern, and Diaz have all proven to be good comedic actors, but here their talents are reduced to nothing but shouting. A lot. Nearly every line in this movie is said very, very loudly. Somewhat amusing at first, it soon becomes boring watching five men (and a woman) yell at each other. Also, many of the actors are below par, with only Slater providing any real interest as 'the homicidal one.' I guess the film was trying to make these guys unlikeable, but sadly they come across as seriously irritating. And there's quite a big difference between unliveable and irritating.

Perhaps the director is at fault. Peter Berg directs the film in a slapstick fashion, but the two genres (horror and comedy) still very uneasily with each other. The gore borders on gross, the humour is somewhat funny, but doesn't fit within the film. It's like Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn suddenly got thrown into Natural Born Killers. A very odd mix, to be sure. Berg also wrote the script, so I as hoping he would handle his own script somewhat better. Sadly, he's not a competent enough director to direct this kind of movie. While Wes Craven easily meshed horror and comedy in Scream (1996) Berg likes the talent to pull this off.

The script itself is okay, but the plot promises a lot but delivers little. There's a few funny lines, but not much is laugh out loud funny. The farce, when it works, is actually quite amusing, but it's lacking sophistication that this film really could do with. Also, the violence before the comedy always makes the audience a little embarrassed to laugh.

Very Bad Things is ultimately disappointing, but there's some odd charm about the movie that makes it watchable. If you have the stomach and want to kill time, Very Bad Things is a mildly amusing 100 minutes. Just don't expect anything special.

Copyright 1999 David Wilcock

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