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I know why people hate this film. They are wrong, but I know why they hate it. They take it too seriously. They are too easily offended. They fail to pick up on the subtle little reminders that Peter Berg includes every once in awhile to let you know, "hey, this is a comedy." The story revolves around a main character, who is soon to be wed to a dominating fiancé, who seems to love the idea of having a big wedding more than she loves her her future husband. Well, our main character and his four closest buddies are off to Vegas for one last night of freedom and fun. In the group you have a pair of Jewish brothers that hate each other, a confused mechanic, and a real estate agent that is a cross between Anthony Robbins and Charles Manson. Well, not to give anything away, but let's just say that some very bad things happen in Vegas, very bad things, and how it will play out after that, well, it is just too entertaining to watch. The acting in this movie is superb, I mean great. The story is fantastic, with tons of hooks and switches. Yes, there is violence and somethings happen, that if they occurred in real life, well, you might be disturbed. HOWEVER, this is a movie! And it is one of my favorite films of all-time. I give it a 10, without hesitation.
One thing that's great about actors turned directors, like Peter Berg,
is that they can be great at eliciting performances from the cast.
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!
I guess this is a movie you either love or hate; I belong in the first
This movie shows what happens when people shed the moral constraints which normally control their conduct and give free rein to their vicious urges. It is a morality lesson and reason(if you need one) never to kill - or at least if you do not to burden yourselves with accomplices.
The reactions of those involved range from complete horror and remorse (Stern) to pure psychopathy (Slater) - who is able to dehumanise the first victim immediately, demeaning her to the mere status of an inconvenience to be disposed of (this is how many serial killers think)
This film gives lots of other valuable insights - and if you only come away from it certain that morality is not a democratic process but a matter of absolute right and wrong, then this movie has done what few achieve; it has educated you morally - following the majority blindly is one of mankinds greatest follies.
Slater is brilliant in his runaway amorality, as is Stern in his bouts of tortured guilt (the scene in the gas station when his kids demand 'Whizzers' is excruciatingly funny and at the same time so poignant that you may experience guilt yourself at finding the mental collapse of the most decent character in the film so hilarious)
Cameron Diaz plays the bride from hell with assuredness and gusto - if this movie puts you off murder it may well also put you off marriage. Her eventual fate, revealed in the closing scenes - is one of the most satisfying payoffs of a loathsome character in the history of film.
Comedy at its darkest - movie making at its best 9 out of 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
VBT, at it's very least is a polarising movie: the views expressed on IMDB
tend to be love it/hate it rather than lukewarm, so it should be credited
for animating its audience in that way.
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.
I thought this movie was going to suck. But I was wrong. This film ranks among the great dramedies (Dr. Strangelove, Little Shop of Horrors, American Beauty, The Cable Guy) by adding sharp comedy with horrific themes that in the wrong circumstances would make this a hard core porno/horror film. Plot involves a couple (Jon Favreu and Cameron Diaz) who are about to get married, but not before the bachelor party with friends Christian Slater, Daniel Slater and others with stripper (and actual porn star) Kobe Tai. It gets juicy after the party when the stripper gets killed, and body count (and laughter) come up in high dosage. Peter Berg makes a great debut as writer/director by making the characters all bad in equal ways, but also throughout the film trying to redeem they're problems (except for Slater who gives his best performance in a while). Fun all around, even if it's Charles Manson fun. One of the better films of the decade. A+
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
VERY BAD THINGS / (1998) *** (out of four)
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.
If you're expecting a pleasant Howard Hawks-ian comedy, you rented the wrong
damn movie! So don't say I didn't warn you. Besides, the video/DVD cover
shows Christian Slater holding a chainsaw. How much warning do you need?
First of all, "Very Bad Things" works out better if you don't treat it as a
straightforward comedy. It's basically a mix of suspense and comedy.
Almost like "Fargo." Now before you jump on me, "VBT" is nowhere near as
great as "Fargo," but the two films are practically equal in tone.
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)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am positive that at least 50% of the people seeing "Very Bad Things"
for the first time are going to hate it outright. They are going to be
offended by the sensationalistic violence, by the sociopathic behavior
of the principals, and by the portrayal of women as harpies and of men
as buffoons and clowns. They will hate the way the movie portrays
marriage and family and children. They will hate the vulgar language
and the drunken maundering and the utter charmlessness of almost every
character in the film.
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.
I have seen this movie three times and each time I am amazed, humored,
frightened and relieved with the poetic justice at the end. And it's
time that I watch it again. The only problem I have with this movie is
title. Every time I try and remember the name I can't think of it.
it should have been called Bachelor Party or Stag Party. I guarantee
you've seen it, you'll never forget it. Especially when your sons are
planning marriage. The plot is great...fun time in Vegas. Girls,
maybe sex. Then the plot thickens and from the bathroom scene on, you
not be able to leave the movie. Have your pacemaker checked, your box of
tissue nearby, to wipe away tears of laughter, and enjoy. If there were
higher than a "10" rating for a movie, Very Bad Things would achieve it
hands down. It's not for children though, so view it after the little
are in bed. Teenagers are fine, they know more about life then we want
believe. This movie has the comedy, the macabre and a justified ending.
Rent it, buy it, watch it!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
People who say this movie sucked missed the point. Scratch that. People
say this movie sucked, don't have any sense of humour. Yes, it's a dark
comedy. Yes, it makes you wanna kill yourself at the end of it, but does
that make it bad??? Requiem for a Dream makes you feel like crap at the
of it but does that mean it sucks?? I loved Requiem for the fact of it's
dark, macabre ending. That it leaves you with a dire sense of desperation
the end, as does this movie, only in a more "comedic" way.
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
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