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(1998) (Jon Faveau, Christian Slater) (R)

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Black comedy: Things spiral out of control and progressively worsen as several friends try to cover up the accidental death of a stripper at a bachelor party.
Kyle Fisher (JON FAVEAU) is a typical guy who's engaged to Laura Garrety (CAMERON DIAZ), a woman obsessed with making sure that every aspect of her upcoming wedding is perfect. The one thing she's not happy with is Kyle's choice of friends, and the fact that they want to take him out for one last night of freedom before the wedding only furthers her dislike toward them.

Even so, she allows those friends -- smarmy real estate hustler Robert Boyd (CHRISTIAN SLATER); introverted mechanic Charles Moore (LELAND ORSER); and the battling Berkow brothers, Adam (DANIEL STERN) and Michael (JEREMY PIVEN) -- to take Kyle to Las Vegas for his bachelor party.

There, the men get a hotel room and throw a wild, but small party complete with sports, drugs, and, of course, a stripper (CARLA SCOTT). While Kyle's morals prevent him from doing anything with her, Michael has none and heads off to the bathroom with her for a brief, but expensive fling.

During their amorous encounter, however, Michael accidentally drives the stripper's head into a towel hook, instantly killing her and creating a bloody mess. While the rest of the men instantly panic and want to call the police, Boyd takes control of the situation. Explaining that if they report the death -- no matter how accidental it appears -- it, along with the drugs will likely land them in jail, Boyd gives them another option.

While they reluctantly agree to remove the stripper and bury her in the desert, their plan gets more complicated when a hotel security guard stops by. Now with two bodies to dispose of, the friends finish their grisly task, and return home swearing not to tell anyone about what happened.

Nonetheless, guilt begins to set in, and Adam's wife, Louis (JEANNE TRIPPLEHORN), along with Laura -- who's determined not to let anything disrupt her pending wedding -- begin to question what the guys did in Vegas. As the friends worry that any of them might spill the beans, they begin taking desperate measures to make sure their secret doesn't get out.

Older male teens are the most likely target audience for this film.
For strong, grisly violence, sexuality, drug use and language.
Considering all that occurs in the film, it's doubtful many parents would find any of the characters to be good role models.


OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
As we've stated in the past regarding black comedies, there's often a very fine line between being funny and coming off as sick or even perverted. Like beauty and the eye of the beholder, such comedic lies squarely with the individual viewer's funny bone. Accordingly, while some will find this film stupid, sophomoric or disgusting, others may believe it to be hilarious and wildly irreverent.

So blackened that even the word "charred" doesn't do it justice, "Very Bad Things" is clearly one of those films. Although some moviegoers -- most likely the teen and college-aged male crowd -- might find the proceedings amusing, most will probably agree that the film goes a bit, or, depending on your perspective, way too far in pushing the morbid humor envelope.

While suspense thrillers, such as the recent "A Perfect Murder" and "A Simple Plan" can "get away" with using murder in an offbeat way -- simply due to the genre in which they fall -- and a film like "There's Something About Mary" can get big laughs from gross, bodily based humor -- simply because it's harmless stuff -- bloody violence and comedy are a near incompatible mix and a tough marketing sell at best.

If done correctly and with enough flair, similarly constructed films, such as "Heathers," can pull it off. While somewhat similar to "A Simple Plan" and any number of other movies where the bad sides of normally complacent and law-abiding individuals come out when they suddenly find themselves in a progressively worsening situation, this film works better in concept (and probably on paper) than it does in realized execution (no pun intended).

Audiences usually enjoy watching the "best laid plans" of characters -- or in this case, the impromptu plans -- quickly and continuously go awry, and that notion does effectively and efficiently unfold here. Characters get paranoid and "wild cards" keep popping up all around them that serve to throw droves of proverbial monkey wrenches into their homicidal cover up.

While such cinematic devices work in suspense thrillers, pulling it off in a comedy adds an additional obstacle to overcome, and this film just doesn't have the muster to pull it off. To buy into the picture's overall concept one has to accept the initial two murders as comedic elements. Actor, turned writer and director Peter Berg, however -- who makes his feature film debut behind the camera -- doesn't quite have the proper comedic touch to make it work.

Simply put, it's too sour to enjoy. While you understand, and perhaps can even artistically appreciate what he's trying to achieve, the ingredients don't add up to a tasty concoction. To his credit, though, Berg (best known for his role on TV's "Chicago Hope"), doesn't hold back in delivering the material with a great deal of verve.

The impressive and talented cast also delivers their performances with a great deal of gusto, although at times they're more irritating than funny. Perfectly cast for such a role and with bits of his Jack Nicholson-like twang still in place, Christian Slater ("Hard Rain," "Broken Arrow") plays a grown-up version of his likewise homicidal character from "Heathers." While certainly not a likeable guy, you never doubt for a moment he'd be capable of doing what he does.

Cameron Diaz ("There's Something About Mary," "My Best Friend's Wedding") goes a bit overboard with her deranged bride-to-be character, although it's easy to appreciate what she's trying to pull off with her performance.

Perpetual nice guy Jon Faveau, who played another likeable, unassuming guy in "Swingers," does the same here, while Daniel Stern (the "City Slickers" movies) is good as the guy with a guilt- ridden and paranoid conscience, and Jeremy Piven (TV's "The Larry Sanders Show") plays the same old, something of a creep character he's now got down pat.

One's enjoyment of the film will heavily depend on whether humor can be found in watching Diaz continuously be psychotic about her wedding, the guys trying to put two chopped up bodies back together again before burying them, and the overall concept of attempting to elicit laughs from violent and bloody material that's normally not associated with humor.

Personally, I didn't find the film very funny. While I laughed quite hard at the gross and stupid stuff in "There's Something About Mary," this film doesn't quite manage to pull it off. Had there been more inherent laughs not tied directly to the morbid comedy material, I think I would have enjoyed the film more.

As it stands, while I understand what the filmmakers are striving for, they don't manage to balance that fine line of comedy and violence, and the picture consequently lands in the realm of the unfunny with a thud. Certain to divide audiences into loving or hating it, "Very Bad Things" gets a 3 out of 10.

Here's a quick look at the major content in this R-rated film. Profanity is extreme with more than 120 "f" words and an assortment of others. One sequence involves a stripper at a bachelor party and includes some nudity. That then turns into a sexual encounter in the bathroom with nudity, movement and sounds.

It ends in a very bloody and fatal accident, and from that point on, other lethal and bloody violence also occurs. Some viewers may not appreciate the film using such scenes, the participants' willingness to kill to preserve a secret, or some brief bits using disabled people, as sources of comedy.

Beyond that, some drug use occurs at that bachelor party (cocaine and bong hits). Due to the nature of the material, we strongly suggest you take a closer look at what's been listed should you or someone in your home wish to see this film.

  • We see Kyle and Charles with champagne in front of them.
  • The guys drinks many shots in their Vegas hotel room, and we see Boyd and Michael snorting cocaine. Charles does a bong hit and then also snorts coke.
  • People have drinks at a rehearsal dinner.
  • Kyle, Charles and Michael have drinks in a bar.
  • After crashing through a glass coffee table, Charles is a little bloody.
  • A stripper and the floor around her are extremely bloody after she's accidentally killed (and we see a towel hook sticking out from her head). In addition, Michael has a lot of blood on him.
  • Then, after a security guard is killed, we again see the bathroom that's completely covered in blood (the floor, walls, along with the dead guard, etc...).
  • Later, we see the guys using a power saw on the guard (to cut his body into smaller pieces) and we then see the pieces of him and the stripper wrapped up. Even later, we see the guys trying to "reassemble" the two bodies from their parts (that can't be seen under their wrappings).
  • The man's head is bloody after he's been hit by a vehicle.
  • A man has blood all over his face after killing someone.
  • A man's face is very bloody after he's been repeatedly struck with a heavy coat stand.
  • Although none of the following is meant to be taken seriously, it still occurs.
  • All of the guys (other than Adam who reluctantly goes along with the plan) have both for trying to cover up a death and then commit ever more crimes following the first.
  • Some may see the film's use of murder, the coverup of murder, a disabled child, and a later scene featuring a three-legged dog, one of the guys with stumps for legs, and another in a wheelchair for humor as having both types of attitudes.
  • Laura will do whatever it takes to get married, including belittling her fiancÚ, being mean to others, and even getting very violent.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be tense to some viewers.
  • The whole sequence where the guys try to cover up the stripper's accidental death, and must then deal with a security guard who stops by, might be tense to some viewers.
  • Boyd repeatedly stabs a security guard with a corkscrew, the guys then keep him closed up in the bathroom, and we hear his agonizing death.
  • The guys nearly have to "take care of" someone who may know of their Vegas deeds.
  • Handgun/Corkscrew: Used to kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Busting my ass," "Bitch boy," "Freaks me out," "Shut up," "Bastard," "Idiots," "Nuts" (crazy), "Sucks," "Loser," what sounded like "Suck my ass," "Jackass," "You little bitch" and "Gimp."
  • A presumably dead man suddenly grabs another man.
  • A moderate amount of such music occurs.
  • A song or two contained lyrics we couldn't understand, so there's always the possibility something's there.
  • A few instances of the following (including the "f" word) come from kids in the film.
  • At least 124 "f" words (2 used with "mother" and 1 used sexually), 11 "s" words, 1 slang term using male genitals ("c*cksucker"), 14 asses (7 used with "hole"), 13 hells, 3 S.O.B.'s, 3 damns, 1 crap, and 22 uses of "G-damn," 6 of "Oh God," 5 of "Jesus," 4 of "Jesus Christ," 3 each of "For Christ's sakes" and "Oh my God," and 1 use each of "Swear to God," "God," "Christ" and "For God's sakes" as exclamations.
  • A stripper/prostitute visits the guys in their Vegas hotel room. We see part of her bare butt from the outfit she wears, and then see her do a lap dance on top of Boyd. She then does the same to Kyle and removes her top and we see her bare breasts as she grinds away on his lap.
  • Michael then takes this woman into the bathroom where she informs him "straight sex" will cost $500. He agrees and moments later we see them having sex standing up against the wall (nude with him between her legs with movement and loud sexual sounds). We also later see her lying nude (and dead) on the floor.
  • Upset, Laura asks Kyle, "You f*cked a prostitute?" (He didn't).
  • Both Boyd and Charles smoke quite a few times.
  • Although not portrayed realistically, a wife and her kids must deal with her husband/their father's death, and later that mother is dead as well.
  • How trying to cover up a crime or accident often leads to more serious repercussions down the road.
  • That violence -- no matter how it's presented in this, or other films -- isn't funny.
  • Charles, high on drugs, crashes through a glass coffee table.
  • While having sex with a stripper (standing up), Michael goes to move the two of them across the bathroom, but ends up accidentally slamming her into the wall where a shower hook impales her head, instantly killing her (and spilling a lot of blood).
  • Boyd repeatedly stabs a security guard with a corkscrew, the guys then keep him closed up in the bathroom, and we hear his agonizing death. The guy then use a power saw to cut the bodies into smaller pieces (partially seen).
  • Boyd smashes one of his real estate signs.
  • One of the guys grabs another and slams him against his van. In turn, that man gets into his vehicle and drives it into the first's van (along with the owner -- we see the impact on his body -- and he later dies).
  • A man tries to smother a woman with a pillow, but she slams a clock against his head and then bites (and holds onto) his clothed crotch. The two then fight with punches and kicks until both crash through a window/mirror. She ends up dead, and the man then shoots another man dead (we only hear the shot).
  • Two men fight and a third person comes along and then repeatedly hits one of them with the heavy base of a coat stand.
  • A person opens a door that crashes into an already injured person who then falls down a flight of stairs and eventually dies.
  • Two vehicles crash into each other and we see one body fly from one into the other's windshield. We later see the results: One man with no legs, another paralyzed in a wheelchair, and a dog that's lost one of its legs.

  • Reviewed October 30, 1998 / Posted on November 25, 1998

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