Very Bad Things (1998)
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Acting is everything in this movie - as the plot spirals out of control, the acting has to maintain the necessary suspension of disbelief. Here it does.
Daniel Stern gives an eyeball-popping tour de force among a cast with some excellent character actors.
A gory and grotesque comedy nightmare masterpiece!
And they will especially hate the excruciating progression of the plot. In the tradition of Hitchcockian films like "Shallow Grave", "A Simple Plan", and "Dead In the Water", the events in the plot start out with a of a bad mistake, compounded by the worst aspects of human nature... and then motives of greed and fear cause more mistakes, things start to spiral out of control, and finally one mistake piles onto another until things are so awful that suicide seems like an easy way out...and in fact, an amazingly large number of people end up dead. That can be hard to watch, and it isn't every body's cup of tea.
I fall into the other 50%, the group who enjoy this kind of savage, mean-spirited humor. I am of the opinion that Berg made exactly the film he wanted to make, and that he left it up to the audience to take it or leave it. I think that Berg wanted to hit a top note of wicked glee right away, and to sustain it for as long as he possibly could. And I think that the actors - Favreau, Slater, and Stern especially - came through with hysteric, overblown performances that make the movie exhausting and hard to watch in spots. But there is JUST enough believability to their performances that you feel as if that could be you, stuck in their place.
Special kudos also go to Cameron Diaz for being willing to play such a narcissistic twit, somewhat of a stretch from the sunny, happy All American Girl types she has done so well over the last few years, And to Jeanne Tripplehorn, as the baffled and angry wife of one of the brothers, who knows something is wrong and can't be deflected until she learns the truth.
The final shot, as Diaz's character runs screaming out the dream home-turned-nightmare to collapse gibbering in the street, is priceless, and serves as kind of a cosmic punchline to all the mayhem, murder, and malice of the presetting 90 minutes, and leaves me with a guilty grin on my face and a huge sense of relief - my life looks so good compared to what just went on in the movie that I want to dance like a white guy!
The proper reaction to "Very Bad Things" probably ranges somewhere between a horrified giggles and the drunken bray of startled laughter you would make after hearing a really good "dead baby joke" for the first time.
Now, in my view, the haters would probably have been comfortable renting something like 'Independence Day' for sentiment and performances, or 'My Big Fat Greek Crowdpleasing Wedding' if they want an occasional satirical but ultimately life-affirming comedy about love and marriage.
VBT is neither. It's pretty much unpleasant from beginning to end, from prostitution to fratricide, and not in the least life-affirming. Everyone, from the psychopathic realtor played by Slater, to the morally vacuous and weak-willed groom-to-be is grotesque. However, I venture to add: it IS funny, and it IS clever.
Not merely, as Americans like to say, 'gross out' funny, but morally satirical. One of the darkest moments of the film is where the practising Jew character, the most morally developed of all in the movie has an attack of conscience as the group are preparing to dispose of the bodies of a prostitute and a security guard out in the desert.
He says they must observe the Jewish practice that requires the bodies to be interred as complete, which provies impossible as both have been hacked up, wrapped up in plastic and distributed amongst four suitcases. What follows is a gruesome jigsaw puzzle of body parts, culminating a great sight gag of them lying out neatly arranged.
There is a more serious premise behind the story of how five apparently ordinary guys who start out on a bachelor weekend are drawn progressively into more and more despicable acts. One of the great moral questions, from the time of the Greek moral philosophers to our own experience of the holocaust is how men come to do evil.
Are there just some evil men, waiting for their potential to be awakened, or is there the potential in all of us, if we are given the excuse and the opportunity? Or is all that is required for evil, as the axiom states, that good men do nothing? Certainly, in the early part of the movie when the first death is down to an accident resulting from a series of misdemeanours, the more moral and sympathetic members of the groups are crucially transfixed by the possible damage to themselves from coming clean at that point.
It's at that point that Slater's character, the charming, functioning psychopath (he does them so well) is able to seize the initiative, provide what appears to be a practical and just about morally palatable solution to their problem and a path back to normality.
This is the true moral junction of the film; everything beyond that is a satirical commentary on their inability to do the one good thing required of them - come clean at the outset. Trying to read the film as totally naturalistic beyond that point doesn't work - it becomes increasingly absurd and unpredictable for comic purposes.
This is a very wordy movie. The script is subtle and complex, and a large part of that is given over to Slater and his persuasive speeches on why a particular course of action should be taken at a particular time.
In the beginning, he exhorts the group that they should cover up the prostitute's death and provides practical arguments to support this, seizing on the upcoming wedding as a moral defence for the actions they are going to commit. The movie's absurdity lies in the ever more extreme and disproportionate acts the group are prepared to commit simply for a wedding to take place.
But there is a serious point underlying this. One common facet of 'organised evil' by apparently normal, moral individuals is the belief that unpleasant acts are necessary for a greater good. This becomes a device to obscure the badness of the bad things because the intent remains good. Should we judge acts by themselves or their intent?
The film suggests, in contemporary society, we've descended even lower. We are obsessed by the appearance of morality rather than the actual practice of it. A society obsessed by symbols, ceremony and rituals rather than the truths they are supposed to represent. And Cameron Diaz is a wonderful exemplar of that ideal as the ruthless bride who steals the last 10 minutes of the movie.
They return home and Adam freaks out with the situation, causing an accident with his wife Lois Berkow (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and children. Meanwhile Laura organizes the wedding party and during the rehearsal, Michael and Adam have a serious argument and Michael decides to hit the minivan of his brother. Adam tries to protect his minivan and is accidentally murdered by his brother. Soon Lois finds a note written by Adam and presses the group to know what happened in Vegas. What will happen to them?
"Very Bad Things" is one of the darkest comedies ever. The storyline of a group of friends that accidentally kills a woman is not original and has been used many times (for example, the 1997 low-budget "Stag"). However, "Very Bad Things" by Peter Berg has improved the story and is little gem of black humor. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Uma Loucura de Casamento" ("A Crazzy Wedding")
By Blake French:
"Allow me to be the first to say that what we have done here is not a good thing. It's definitely not a good thing. But it was, given the circumstances, the smart play." --Robert Boyd
If anything, Peter Berg's "Very Bad Things" triggers a response, regardless of the nature. My initial reaction to the dark, disturbing parody was bleak and unpleasant. The movie displays sick, demented behavior and despicable, annoying characters. It's not humanly possible to like anyone in the movie. Christian Slater's character is cruel and selfish. Cameron Diaz displays a whiny, obsessive portrayal. I needed an aspirin during this unfunny mess.
I viewed the film a second time; surprisingly, my opinion differed greatly. I liked all the same parts, but this time, my attitude changed. I watched with more of an open mind-the film is advertised as a dark comedy, but-although a few explosively funny moments occur-the film seldom provokes laughs. It's important to watch abstractly, with no remorse or guilt for enjoying the unholy revelation of events. Everything that happens here makes perfect sense under the circumstances. If you don't expect a light hearted, laugh a minute comedy, then "Very Bad Things" fulfills a long-needed niche in Hollywood.
"Very Bad Things" is, like the tagline notes, a very savage comedy. It does not paint a happy portrait of our society-it's a scathing satire on American values. It's needlessly racist, sexist, and vulgar. It depicts a gross portrayal of modern families, the delicate but perverse male mindset, disgusting bachelor parties, and even the "happiest day" of many lives-the wedding day.
Cameron Diaz plays Laura Garrety, a selfish, whiny bride-to-be. She's getting married in three days to a handsome fellow named Kyle Fisher (Jon Faveau from "Swingers"). She isn't happy with his decision to travel to Vegas with his friends for a bachelor party. They include two bickering brothers, Adam (Daniel Stern), and Michael (Jeremy Piven, who stepped into the role after Adam Sandler stepped out to make "The Waterboy."), as well as an organized but cruel real estate agent named Robert Boyd (Christian Slater), and a quiet mechanic named Charles Moore (Leland Orser).
Once they arrive in Vegas, a stylistic montage sequence shows the five friends gambling, snorting cocaine, and drinking lots of alcohol. They settle in for the night at a fancy hotel, where a stripper (Carla Scott) arrives and lap dances the guys into a frenzy. Michael takes her into the bathroom for sex, but accidentally drives the stripper's head into a towel hook, instantly killing her. The rest of the men panic and want to call for help, but Boyd has a better idea. He wants to bury the body in the nearby desert. The intrusion of a hotel security guard complicates the issue. Boyd kills him with a corkscrew during a particularly unpleasant scene. The rest decide to use a chain saw to cut up the bodies and carry them to the desert in suitcases, where they do indeed put the unfortunate souls underground.
Although not for the easily offended, "Very Bad Things" takes us on a roller coaster ride through immorality and its consequences. It's fun watching the sequences of events, the bodies piling up, and the exaggeration of our most improper impulses. A great cast demonstrates their fine acting abilities. The script, also by Peter Berg, features very smart, witty dialogue. Berg directs the chaos with an engaging style-especially during the scenes in Vegas, and keeps the momentum throughout the movie. If the filmmakers played the material as straight drama, it might have worked even better, but as it is, "Very Bad Things" is a joy ride through harsh satire.
At least the film contains one element that some comedies lack: the characters AREN'T acting as if they're in a comedy! When the characters panic and do foolish things, they're not contrived comic moments. People do the most absurd things when they panic.
It's hard to explain what exactly it is that makes the film funny. You just have to watch the film. But people really, really mean it when they label this as a dark comedy. Writer/director Peter Berg tries to keep a somewhat quirky tone, though. There are some slanty camera angles and the soundtrack conflicts with the tone of each scene. Don't worry, it's done intentionally. Berg, who's known mostly as an actor in films like "Cop Land" and "The Great White Hype," makes a fine directorial debut, though there is some improper pacing.
Finally, the actors are what make this film most worth seeing. I've always been a fan of Christian Slater, and believe him to be an underrated talent. He seems passionate about every character he plays, and spouts out every line of dialogue like it's poetry. His character is very interesting, as he seems to keep his cool in every situation, no matter how tragic or violent. Daniel Stern's another underrated talent, since he mostly does lightweight family comedies like the "Home Alone" flicks, and does a great job at playing his constantly paranoid character, who's the complete opposite of Slater's. Cameron Diaz gives a fine comic performance as the tightly-wound, hot-tempered wife of Jon Favreau. I think this is one of her most unique performances up-to-date. I think this was before she became such a sex symbol. Now fame has gone a little bit more to her head, starring in such throwaway flicks as the "Charlie's Angels" films and "The Sweetest Thing." She is in fact a very talented actress, but this movie most proves that she's more than just a pretty face. Speaking of pretty faces, Jeanne Tripplehorn also gives a fine comic performance as Stern's tightly-wound wife.
I consider myself an admirer of dark comedies, but any type of film can fail. This one doesn't. It made me laugh and kept me in suspense. And it has a great share of profanity, violence and nudity (that Asian stripper was deliciously hot!!!). "Very Bad Things" is not for the straitlaced, or faint of heart, but for the rest of us--have fun!!!
My score: 7 (out of 10)
Very Bad Things is a cautionary tale about the war of the sexes, the battle of consumerism. It's about collateral damage: Friendly fire is liable to take out just about anyone in the suburbs if a wedding is at stake! It's about people who have lost heart, who have forgotten what's really important.
Five male friends are off to Las Vegas for a stag party. The bride stays home to continue the wedding preparations; to plan her day of days. Accidentally the boys kill a prostitute in their hotel room and decide to hush it up, bury her in the desert to avoid the unpleasantness of an investigation. And then the body count mounts.
The boys, and later, just as viciously the bride, take the pragmatic road. That same "let's get on with business, people don't matter" sort of morality that will allow a President to lie to Congress and get away with it, cricket champions to cheat and then be made Captain, politicians to sacrifice their citizens for the sake of overseas companies, and murder to be acceptable as long as no one finds out about it. It's not how you play the game, but you must win.
The boys are pretty average types really except for Robert Boyd (Christian Slater, who was let out of prison to do the shoot!!!). Robert Boyd is a Men's Support Group graduate. He's into self fulfilment and asserting himself but is also the catalyst that tips these average men into horror. The other dominant personality is the bride Laura played by Cameron Diaz (There's Something About Mary). Her single mindedness is astounding. (Cameron Diaz is an astounding actress! Watch her eyes.)
But what is " average" in these suburbs. And what about the pressures that go with paying the mortgage and keeping the wife happy? Very Bad Things finishes with a slow overhead shot of the suburb that has become hell for this lot. The tones are dirty grey. The mood is bleak and hopeless. The residents have sold their souls for a white minivan and a posh wedding. The pressures of keeping up with the Jones have had casualties.
There are continual references to being 'a loser' in the film. Even Kyle's Dad in the Toast To The Groom at the wedding refers vividly to his son's dismal failure as a school football player. The men are liable to crack.
Very Bad Things is about the pressure cooker male bread winners are living in. The fear of failure is lurking menacingly near by. The men in the film appear to be doing reasonably well from a fiscal point of view but when the pressure rises, the girl in the hotel room dies, horrible things happen with Boyd egging them on.
The editing is ferocious, the characters are vivid and the mood is very wry indeed. Don't expect to laugh much but hell, paying the mortgage isn't much fun either.
Men have been reacting to the mess they are in in the 90's but I would say that writer/director Peter Berg doesn't think much of Men's self help groups. Slater's Robert Boyd has twisted self assertiveness to his own ends. These suburbanites commit horrendous crimes, but still, we should all consider what the men in Very Bad Things are up against.
The phrase "you do love me don't you" from the women in their lives has never sounded more manipulative.
Other reviews say it sucked cause everyone died?!?! What the??? Why does that suck?? 1st off, not everyone dies. Some live to WISH they died, but everyone dies in, lets say, Reservoir dogs and that movie is BRILLIANT!!
I think what most people's problem with this movie was that it made them uncomfortable. If you dislike movies that make you stir in your seat, not cause it blows, but because the content is subversive, then stay away. If you like dark comedies, with an all-star ensemble and tense, gruesome yet strangely funny scenes, then watch this. You will not be let down.
The only comment I will say is the yelling and screaming scenes got to be a bit much at times, but it's excusable considering what's happening to these people, as the movie plays it totally straight faced.
8.5 out of 10
I think I watched this movie at a perfect timing. I really enjoyed it because it was funny in a very dark way. I know it's kind of sick, but I did laugh at some of the darkest scenes and really got into it. My best friend, she's about to be married, and she reminds me a lot of Cameron's character. She wants her wedding day to be so perfect that she'll do ANYTHING to make sure of it. Well, not murder, but you get my drift. :D It's a dark comedy, there's no doubt. But I would highly recommend this because it is a good movie for laughs. Just let go and have a little fun and repeat: it's just a movie, it's just a movie, etc.
What a great movie and what a big surprise ! First of all, a warning, this is no light comedy. This is not a family movie. This is a very, and I mean VERY dark comedy !
Actually, it is more a TRAGEDY. A very sick, repulsive and violent one. There is nothing to laugh about it. Specially in the ending. BUT YOU WILL ! Believe me, YOU WILL LAUGH !
And you´ll feel guilty for laughing, but you won´t be able to stop. This is a very good idea for a story and originally presented. The casting is perfect and all the actors deliver excellent performances. It´s impossible to choose anyone in particular.
They really turn this film into something special, because above all it´s an actors movie supported by a brilliant screenplay.
This screenplay is so good that you might guess what will happen next, but you´ll never guess how it happens. And the ending is truly unbelievable ! Not to say unexpected !
In more than 10 years, I never saw so many people laughing at a movie. There was a woman next to me completely hysterical.
This movie reminds me of those Warner Brothers, ROAD RUNNER cartoons. An adult version maybe. And it´s a fabulous comedy !
But be warned, this is incredibly sick and violent, so if you don´t have a sick sense of humor, you´ll probably hate it and feel very disgusted by it.
That´s what´s so great about this screenplay. This is not politically correct at all ! I LOVE IT !
Oh, by the way, can anybody spot the MICROPHONES that appear in the kitchen night scenes ?... I love when that happens!
Maybe I´m a psychopath for liking this movie so much, but if you´re like me, you have to see this ! Just don´t get any ideas from it.
One more thing, stay away from people who have already seen it, because they might spoil all the story by telling you to much about it. Go and see this, but go totally in blank. Don´t try to find out anything about this movie before.
You´ll be surprised. And you´ll laugh much more.
ANOTHER WARNING : Don´t eat popcorn while watching this because you´ll choke on it.
you should see this movie and laugh, because peter berg's writing will make you do it despite any thoughts against it.
Why did I hate this movie? It is physically upsetting to watch, all the characters scream and rant and are so blatantly stupid and idiotic that this movie probably gave me an ulcer, and I'm 19! No other movie has ever upset me as much as this movie did, Some fans of very bad things portray it has a a satirical depiction of suburban life, or human nature in general. It is nothing but an excuse to show some of the saddest excuses for comedy the writer had: a hooker's head impaled by a coat hanger, some of the most annoying children ever cast on film, and characters so hateful and one dimensional you cannot manage one ounce of sympathy for them.
I know that is the point of the movie, to showcase these male headcases and make a statement about suburbia. But much like vampires, the characters are so dark, misogynistic and downright stupid that it takes away all the enjoyment of the movie. The point of movies is to entertain, or at least get something out of the movie.
I walked away from Cannibal Holocaust, Tetsuo, Pink Flamingos, The Killer and many other violent, bizarre movies entertained and fascinated. I walked away from very bad things physically and mentally upset with myself, my girlfriend and the world in general...a real gem of a movie
Boyd is an estate agent. He is also a psychopath. Fittingly, given his recent incarceration for violence, Slater is landed the plum role. However, it turns out to be merely an extension of the nutcase he played in Heathers many moons ago. Only not half as good.
Very Bad Things is part of a trio (the other two being The Opposite of Sex and Your Friends and Neighbours) of very nasty American independent movies coming out in the next month or so. Like its contemporaries it's memorable and scabrous.
The tale concerns a trip to Las Vegas for the boys. Kyle Fisher, Favreau (of Swingers fame), is getting wed to snotty ex-sorority girl Laura (Diaz), but before he takes the plunge Boyd has organised some drugs and frolics in seamy Las Vegas.
Accompanied by brothers Adam (Daniel Stern) and Michael (Jeremy Piven) and mute-like Charles (Leland Orser), the big boys' entertainment is abruptly curtailed. Michael, high on coke, has accidentally embedded an Asian (played by real-life porn star Kobe Tai, a.k.a. Carla Scott) prostitute's head to a coat-hook in the bathroom. This is a truly gruesome scene that is interspersed quite cleverly with the revolting sight of two wrestlers on the TV. Noticeably, Berg's direction lingers very uncomfortably on her naked corpse.
The boys panic and before you can say "blood bath", Boyd misuses a corkscrew on a hotel security guard, leaving him wailing like a pig, before, inevitably, slaughtering him. He duly announces: "Surrender is no longer an option."
This kicks-off a lot of histrionic yelling and a burial scene reminiscent of Shallow Grave - shopping for equipment, decapitation and dismemberment. Aiming for humour, these scenes flop laugh-wise. Left in the hands of Tarantino or the Coen brothers, these sequences may have succeeded, but in Very Bad Things there is far too much screaming going on. The Coens would have tempered the chaos and brutality with pathos or a hint of humanity. Director Berg aims hard for "cool", but only achieves bad imitation.
After the horror of Vegas, the utterly charmless set of businessmen return to their suburban homes and go swiftly mad. What ensues is a series of events reminiscent of the classic Ladykillers, interspersed with the occasional witty line. Diaz, in particular, gets some fine dialogue: "The scent of cheap hotel's whore's sex" and "No one is going to rob me of the wedding I've waited 27 years to have." Slater also gets a couple of good scenes where he takes corporate business logic to an insane limit: "I'm a lighthouse, I never go dark."
Ultimately, Very Bad Things is disjointed, mildly irritating, far more violent than the pilloried and much finer Natural Born Killers, contains obnoxious characters and receives a rather good finale that it doesn't really deserve. A film that illustrates just how clever the likes Tarantino, John Dahl, The Coens and David Lynch really are.
When I first saw this movie I did not expect the level of violence that was heading my way. It was so real and so shocking that no I didn't turn my head, but just watched and was amazed at how a movie can level this well on human comedy/horror .Thus this may being one of my favorite movies of all time. Some people found it disturbing, and guess what....there right. This is not for the faint of heart. Although every performance was great, only two stood out to me. 1.) Being Christian Slater psycho performance and 2.) Leland Orser who in my respects made me laugh at he's reactions to almost every gut wrenching scene.Especially my favorite line of the whole movie, "I've got toes,I've got toes,I've got somebody toes."
So be prepared to be very gross out by a Very Great Film called VERY BAD THINGS.
Laughing at a horror movie and appreciating a true dark comedy are two totally different things, (for those who say they like dark comedies then list off five horror movies!). You will like this film if you enjoyed self-destructing films such as, "Serial Mom", "Fargo", and even "Bad Santa" (in my opinion!)