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Wild Things (1998) - DVD Review

By Widge - posted 05.31.04 @ 2:09 am
Wild Things DVD cover art


Written by: Stephen Peters
Directed by: John McNaughton
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Bill Murray


  • Theatrical trailer
  • Additional unrated footage

Released by: Sony
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Um. No.

Sam Lombardo (Dillon) seems to be a decent guy who works as a high school guidance counselor. Then, two of his students (Richards and Campbell) accuse him of raping them. Dillon hires a sleazebag attorney (Murray) to represent him and a local cop (Bacon) smells a rat about the entire deal. And the cop just might be right.

A lot of people hail this as some kind of trashy fun would-be flesh flick. Oh, if only. The entire ordeal to me seems forced and formulaic. Plot twists plus lesbian pool scene plus nasty threesome equals good dirty fun. Well, yes, but the end result feels like a movie written for Cinemax that somehow managed to get some name players behind it. I know you're thinking Destination Films, but trust me, they were nowhere near this.

The film has two major problems. One, it tries to be too twisty. In fact, it gets so twisted up they have to resort to using the closing credits to explain how a bunch of stuff got pulled off. The fact that anybody from the lead characters to the extras in the crowd scenes could be a suspect might work in a real mystery by Christie, but here it feels like desperation. Two, it's honestly not that sexy. Sure, I know in concept it probably sounded sexy, but there is, as the man said, a difference in practice between theory and practice. Seeing Dillon push Campbell's and Richards' heads together and making them kiss is a nice analogy for the entire film. Forced and just doesn't work.

Bill Murray in Wild Things

Bill Murray, slumming

That's not to say there's nothing here worth seeing--while some praise the film for its unabashed trashiness, I'd prefer to praise it for the perfection that Bill Murray brings to his role of the scumbag lawyer. He's definitely the standout, and fans of Murray will want to see the film for him, if nothing else.

As for the DVD, this "unrated edition" is a bit of a puzzler. Apart from a scene restored from the deleted scenes on a previous edition, the only part that could be considered to be in the least bit steamy is an extended version of the pool sequence with Richards and Campbell making out. And it's about as steamy as three-day-old rice. So the "unrated" designation is merely a ploy to get you to buy this version, it seems. Was this a stunt to get your attention so you'd buy this and the undercooked Wild Things 2? Who can say. The minds at Columbia-Tristar are closed to me for the moment.

The trailer's the only other thing here. If you really must see the extra minute or so of pool inaction, rent it. If you already have the previous edition, you're not missing much by skipping this one.

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Widgett Walls is Need Coffee's Chief Cook and Bottle Washer. He is the author of the novel Mystics on the Road to Vanishing Point, and two collections of short stories, Magnificent Desolation and Something Else: The Complete First Season. He is also co-author of the children's book There's a Zombie in My Treehouse! All of those books are available in paperback or for the Kindle from Amazon. He is also the narrator and publisher of the first unabridged recording of Seneca's letters, available here. He is active on both Twitter and Facebook. (If you befriend him on Facebook, do say you came via Need Coffee.) He lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. He hardly ever sleeps.

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