Very Bad Things

Laura Garrety (Cameron Diaz) is a woman who won’t be denied. She has waited 27 years to get married, and she won’t let a little thing like a bachelor party get in her way. Which explains her reluctance when fiancee Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) announces that his buddies are taking him to Las Vegas for one final blowout. It’s not that she doesn’t trust Kyle. She does.

Very Bad ThingsShe doesn’t trust Kyle’s friends, especially Robert Boyd (Christian Slater), who seems to have some kind of power over the group. Even though the wedding is days away, Laura allows Kyle to go. After picking up brothers Adam (Daniel Stern) and Michael (Jeremy Piven) and mechanic friend Charles (Leland Orser), the guys hit the road for Las Vegas. Once there, they engage in some gambling, some drinking, some drug use and a little murder. Well, it didn’t start off as murder.
It started off as wild sex between Michael and a hooker in the hotel suite bathroom. Too bad Michael didn’t see that coat hook on the wall when he slammed the hooker’s head up against it. Hey, accidents happen. Instead of panicking, the guys gather their thoughts, but are interrupted when a hotel security guard enters the room. He’s there because there’s been a complaint about the noise. He doesn’t know about the dead hooker until it’s too late to turn back. Before you can say leave the money on the table, the guard ends up dead too. After some quick thinking and an unplanned trip into the middle of the desert, the problem is dispensed with, and the guys are on their way back home.

That is how writer- director Peter Berg’s black comedy “Very Bad Things” begins. The real fun comes when the guys arrive home and try to keep their composure. Similar in theme to the cable drama “Stag,” another film about a bachelor party gone wrong, “Very Bad Things” expands on the theme and delivers some unexpected laughs along the way. Whereas “Stag” was basically a morality tale set inside a single residence, “Very Bad Things” is a wicked guilt trip that gets wildly out of hand. Berg, the actor who played Billy Kronk on television’s “Chicago Hope,” delights in exploiting the dark side of life. It helps that he has a cast who understands the material and is willing to play along. Some of the humor is pretty dicey (especially the finale, which is a nasty case of just desserts), and even though the murders that begin the film are a little rough, none of this is to be taken seriously. How else can you explain the scene where the guys are forced to dig up the body parts they have buried in the desert because one of the gang thinks it sacrilegious to mix them. It’s totally absurd yet incredibly funny. Things heat up when the gang returns home, and Robert takes it upon himself to guarantee that their secret die with them.

Slater plays these characters well, a sort of rift on the one he played in “Heathers.” There’s a real devil operating behind that perfect grin. Cameron Diaz, operating on cruise control after “There’s Something About Mary,” is excellent as an obsessed woman who won’t let a little thing like murder and betrayal ruin her big day. Daniel Stern and Jeremy Piven spar like real brothers, while Favreau is great at looking perplexed as the body count rises. “Very Bad Things” isn’t for everyone. It’s humor may be too dark and vicious for some. Still, it’s a blast to watch these desperate characters go through the motions.


Well defined widescreen and full screen versions (on one side thanks to the dual-layer disc) shows strong colors and blacks, with tremendous depth of field and attention to detail. The widescreen version is delivered in the film’s original 1.85:1 widescreen ratio, enhanced at 16:9. Images are sharp and vivid, with excellent color saturation. A pristine original negative allows for pure whites and shadows, with not one ounce of compression artifacts visible. Flesh tones are especially flattering.

HEARING: Excellent
Take your pick from both an English and French language 5.1 Channel AC-3 soundtrack, plus a peppy English 2.0 Dolby Surround soundtrack. All are expressive and pure from hiss or distortion. The 5.1 soundtrack features strong stereo split (both left to right, and front to back spatial), nice surround effects, and strong basses. High ends are incredibly sharp without being piercing, while the rear speakers come alive with music and ambient noise. Dialogue mix is also strong, allowing the lines to sneak through the hip soundtrack without missing a beat.

ORAL: Good
Closed captions in English for the hard of hearing.

Standard issue main and scene access menus, plus the film’s original theatrical trailer, and cast & crew bios & filmographies.

PROGNOSIS: Excellent
Personally, I wouldn’t party with these guys, but I like watching them from a safe distance.


HMO: Polygram Video

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