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Very Bad Things (1998): Is There a Sign in My Front Yard Saying Dead Hooker Storage?

Very Bad Things (Peter Berg, 1998)

[originally posted 22Oct2000]

A shot of the principal cast of the film, with Cameron Diaz and a chainsaw-wielding Christian Slater centered and others surrounding them, is ringed by reviewer blurbs in this alternative poster.

Snatchelor party.
photo credit: Wikipedia

Very Bad Things? Very good film.

Before going any further, let me clarify, since you may be asking yourself: yes, THAT Peter Berg. Dr. Kronk.

This movie is risky as hell. Berg, who both wrote and directed, was out to redefine the black comedy as we know it. And when you get that black, you get into territory where you’re almost certain to lose your audience. But in this case, Berg’s determination to cross that line, and to cross it as often as necessary, turns the film from a typical black comedy into something worth watching.

Christian Slater attempts to bring some quiet reflection to a blood-soaked room.

“No! You are NOT leaving this mess for the housekeeping staff!”
photo credit: dvdactive.com

Kyle (Jon Favreau) is getting married to Laura (Cameron Diaz). His best man, Robert Boyd (Christian Slater), and a few of their pals decide to take Kyle to Vegas for his bachelor party. During the festivities, a prostitute dies by accident. From there on, the film details what they decide to do with the body, and how it affects each of the party members. Doesn’t sound like gut-wrenchingly funny stuff, does it? But Berg consistently goes over the top with it, sometimes more subtly than others. I’ve got one of the sickest senses of humor I know, and I found the chuckles few and far between until about a half hour before the end of the film, but that didn’t bother me much. The interaction between the characters was absorbing enough to keep me interested until the

A shot of most of the principals at a blackjack table in Las Vegas. From left: Jon Favreau, Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, Leland Orser, and Daniel Stern.

Lucky at cards, VERY unlucky at love.
photo credit: thefancarpet.com

laughs started coming regularly. And when they do, boy do they ever. You’re left at the end of this film thinking that it was a two-hour shaggy dog joke, that the whole film was built around what may be one of the most hysterical– and memorable– final scenes in all of filmdom. But this is one of those jokes where the punchline is so perfect that you don’t mind having to listen to two hours of setup. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you like your humor just this side of insanity, you’ll laugh as hard as I did at that last scene. *** ½

 


Trailer.

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

2 responses »

  1. Pingback: Go (1999): You’re About to Leave Him Now | Popcorn for Breakfast

  2. Pingback: Scenic Route (2013): Musta Made a Wrong Turn at Albuquerque | Popcorn for Breakfast

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