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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.4%
Average: 7.46%
Pretty Bad: 11.19%
Total Crap: 24.63%

10 reviews, 74 user ratings

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Very Bad Things
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by Daniel Kelly

"Very, very bad indeed."
1 stars

Sometimes you watch a film and just can’t quite get it out of your head. Positive examples of this over the last few years include Christopher Nolan’s trippy “Inception” and last year’s invigorating animation “Rango”. For whatever reason these pictures stay lodged in your stream of consciousness for days, demanding to be thought about and viewed again when they hit home video. However there are occasions in which a piece of art can occupy your brain for all the wrong reasons. Watching something that’s bizarrely misjudged, yet concrete in its ambitions can lead to just as much debate and consideration, there’s nothing quite like a bad film that has all its convictions and hopes set firmly in the corner of “what the hell were they thinking?”. Anybody can make a bland, disposable or insufferably dumb flick, but it takes someone special, or possibly with genuine talent and visionary tendencies to turn in something as rough and rotten as the sort of work I’m highlighting. “Very Bad Things” is one such effort, a ridiculously over the top and vile little comedy, pitched so rigidly in the camp of dark comedy that any sort of artistic sunshine feels forever absent. Directed by Peter Berg (who would later helm the semi-impressive Will Smith superhero adventure “Hancock”), “Very Bad Things” is a fascinating study in misguided storytelling, screenwriting and characterisation. It’s an incredibly troubling product, a genuinely cruel tale that skips the laughs and lunges at the most despicable tendencies of man. Purely for your entertainment of course.

Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) is about to wed uptight but affable Laura (Cameron Diaz), looking forward to the classy service, but firstly awaiting his Vegas bound Bachelor party. Alongside buddies Charles (Leland Orser), Michael (Jeremy Piven), Adam (Daniel Stern) and the unsettling Boyd (Christian Slater), Kyle enjoys a night of gambling, booze and drugs. Boyd arranges a visit from a prostitute; Kyle declines her services out of loyalty to Laura, giving Michael first dibs on the frisky escort. However during some rough sex the prostitute is accidentally killed, but when a security guard comes inquiring about noise and catches sight of her corpse, there’s nothing accidental about the way Boyd offs him. Now the guys face a choice. Do they confess and become convicted murderers and accomplices, or do they bury the bodies in the Nevada wild? Opting for the latter seems initially easier, but on their return home guilt arises and suspicions mount, leading the secret to spiral way out of control.

It’s tough to imagine that anybody either making the film or distributing it ever thought it was funny. “Very Bad Things” is a portrait of horrible people doing horrible things for 100 minutes, Berg and his cast smugly assuming that by aiming for the most depraved tone possible, they’re being edgy and intelligent. I don’t consider myself a prude and much less easily offended, but some of the material in “Very Bad Things” is just unspeakably crass, and the joyless cast only further dampen the supposed party. It’s an unusual ensemble and not one without value in principal, but on this occasion the disgusting characterisation and lack of chemistry between them sink the ship. Slater winks and lies his way through the flick in the style of “Heathers”, but here he has no Winona Ryder to play off, just a handful of gormless comics occupying equally distasteful skins. Favreau and Orser are the dullest of the group and Piven is his usual slimy and unfunny self. More interesting is Stern’s Adam, the only one of the bunch bothered by manslaughter and murder, yet so cowardly is the fashion he deals with the situation that it becomes impossible to engage with him. As an onscreen gang they have no spark or zeal, it’s a lifeless troupe of clowns mucking around in the sourest manner possible.

Murder can be amusing. Just look at large chunks of the Coens’ repertoire or even last summer’s “Horrible Bosses” for proof. However watching Jeremy Piven thrusting into a hooker as she cracks her skull doesn’t really tickle me that much, less so the sight of an innocent man begging for his life as he bleeds to death in a locked bathroom. Yet Berg treats these moments and several others of an equally inappropriate ilk as the set-pieces for his dark examination of douchebag culture, scrambling around desperately for giggles amidst the grimy context. A single sequence in the film stands out as well devised, one of the men’s wives interviewing them to try and understand the nature of their trip to Vegas. It’s a tense scene, well shot and with the actors breaking out of their lethargic slump, but even it is sullied by a final feat of callousness come the end.

The picture breaks into a bloody frenzy during the third act presenting carnage in the most predictable way possible. It’s a technically proficient effort; Berg showcasing some of the pizazz that would later get him inducted into the blockbusting inner circle, but one has to seriously deliberate over the tastelessness of the material he’s concocted. Maybe if the movie had generated some genuine laughs or displayed an iota of wit, I might be more forgiving of its vulgar sensibility, but the combination of weak-minded farce and tawdry bravado is too much to stomach in this instance, the picture going down as smoothly as raw poultry or spoiled eggs.

I detested “Very Bad Things”, a disappointing revelation given that the project has amassed some love in the wake of its admittedly patchy reception in 1998. Those interested in film and comedy should watch it, merely as an indicator of how miscalculated things can get. Paired alongside the other recent and genuinely enjoyable bachelor party flick “The Hangover” it could make for a fascinating study, a certifiable showcase in proving that being left of field or politically incorrect isn’t enough, you need good jokes and performances as well. “Very Bad Things” is an ugly 90s comedy, one best forgotten, although erasing something so repugnant from your mind is probably easier said than done.

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originally posted: 07/19/12 01:25:31
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User Comments

7/27/18 Rick Savages the Facebook mentality. Couldn't stop laughing. 5 stars
9/16/17 morris campbell unpleasant & boring & point less pure trash 1 stars
5/20/13 Tim Sardonic, very dark, and misunderstood, the macabre humor grabbed me in a second viewing. 4 stars
7/05/09 mr.mike These things always lose steam towards the end, still well done. 4 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner This Film was well made!! 5 stars
10/25/07 Mr SK Has to be seen at least twice... if not 3 or 4 times - great movie. 5 stars
12/28/06 ben_a I thought I was the only one who got this movie. Great movie! 5 stars
5/06/06 dionwr Haven't seen it 3 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A I should probably watch this again... 3 stars
5/02/06 David Cornelius ----- 3 stars
5/02/06 HBS-SH paper st. mayhem 4 stars
4/13/06 joe arbuckle Even the 'normal' stuff is hilarious. Even better when you dont know the premise! Whizzers 5 stars
6/07/05 R.C.F. The longer I'm watching this one, the less I care what the whole absurd bloodbath is about. 1 stars
2/20/05 Jeff Anderson Sick insanity DONE RIGHT! Great performances, directing & script TRULY TRIUMPH!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/09/04 Mitch De Costa Very Bad Things - Not to be forgotten 4 stars
9/10/04 jeff was this supposded to be a comedy or horror flick?? 1 stars
6/24/04 the bride GO HOME YOU FUCKING MURDERER! 5 stars
2/19/04 MP Bartley FUCKING WHIZZERS!!!! 5 stars
10/20/03 Josh Standlee Christian Slater played the best damn psycho he could! Bravo! 5 stars
9/04/03 eddie it was good because i say so - BOOYAH 5 stars
8/26/03 AD fucking awful 1 stars
6/30/03 B Boring as hell. Not the least bit entertaining. 1 stars
4/01/03 Rebecca Hated it the 1st viewing; Loved it by the 3rd viewing 5 stars
3/16/03 123 a dark disturbing brutal fucked up movie with some characters 4 stars
3/10/03 Stevo very bad film. ok, predictable line, but this is SHIT 1 stars
7/19/02 Film Dude No Caligula, I will not cut my throat and die. 5 stars
6/09/02 Kyle Dark as fuck. 5 stars
4/19/02 R.W. Welch Black comedy that's too black to be a comedy; Aptly named. 2 stars
3/30/02 fjkdljskfds the most FRUSTRATING movie ever, and i LIKE dark comedy. wanted to walk out. 1 stars
2/28/02 Tiffany Thunderhurst Why waste Cameron Diaz on a role that Ashley Judd would envy? 2 stars
2/22/02 CCPunk PIece of shit movie with no understanding about what makes dark comedy still comedy 2 stars
11/16/01 Geto Smurf Now THIS is comedy. 5 stars
7/31/01 KA Fucking Wizzers! Wizzers! 4 stars
7/06/01 SBM Shocking and very messed up! Great if you can HANDLE & UNDERSTAND dark comedy! 5 stars
5/06/01 Louis Really fucked up 5 stars
3/28/01 Monster W. Kung Mediocre attempt at satire with tiresome cliches all over it. Plus, the end sucks. Badly. 2 stars
2/18/01 Soggy Bottom Boy Very Poor Taste. But it had a few (albeit sick) laughs, and an above average soundtrack. 4 stars
2/13/01 Jake Way too dark macabre for my taste. Though Stern was hilarious in scene about the Whizzers. 2 stars
9/03/00 Boyo You have to approach this knowing it's not totally serious. It's blackest of black comedy 5 stars
5/30/00 natasha funny parts overwhelmed by pointless murder, maiming, and dismemberment 2 stars
5/18/00 Richard Wright Gory, disgusting and morally dubious film without a witty or decent bone in its body. 1 stars
4/14/00 Pyro I was drunk, but it had nudity and sensless violence!! 5 stars
3/07/00 J. Alán Blankenship Deliciously deviant and grotesque...I loved every minute of it! 4 stars
2/11/00 Steve Layne I liked it better in the theatre, but I still think its a very entertaining black comedy. 4 stars
10/19/99 JonnyAngel Very Bad Movie (ha ha, that was too easy) 1 stars
9/16/99 mr. pink lesson learned: violence and shouting are not enough for a good dark comedy. 2 stars
8/10/99 Kat savage fun 5 stars
6/28/99 Steve Bashakus There's a big fucking difference between "very dark" and just plain shitty. Bite me. 1 stars
6/26/99 David Offensive is fine as long as it's funny...SHOUTING IS NOT FUNNY 1 stars
6/11/99 The Bomb 69 over the top in some places but funny in most 4 stars
3/17/99 Ah Dooey Not bad, but a really good warped movie. 5 stars
3/13/99 Cool Thing No guffaws, but many guilty chuckles. Enjoyed this immensely. 5 stars
2/28/99 MR HOLLYWOOD!! Very,Very Dark,more so than Pulp Fiction,some funny bits but very depressing. 4 stars
2/09/99 chuck-d damn. funny. laughed out loud for two hours 4 stars
1/12/99 cynthia truly disturbing. but very good.i would see again 5 stars
1/09/99 crc loved it. if you're a prude, you'll hate it. what's so dark about it? funnyfunny and unique 5 stars
1/03/99 Lauren Baker Okay, so, I got the "dark" part, but where did the "comedy" part come in?Run from this. 1 stars
12/24/98 Chip Sprague Funniest Movie Ever (If you can laugh at death) 5 stars
12/13/98 kozmic great movie for those who like to see how a situation can get shockingly worse,it was fun 5 stars
12/12/98 frank the most twisted movie i've ever seen. 5 stars
12/11/98 Daddy Rich I enjoyed it up until the very end. Other than that, pretty entertaining and funny. 4 stars
12/10/98 Bryan Incredibly hateful and unfunny movie! 1 stars
12/07/98 cyanide rush i almost fell over laughing on the way out of the theater(the little kid called him a gimp! 5 stars
12/06/98 Mr Showbiz Cameron Diaz is the film's only bright spot. 3 stars
12/04/98 Jeff C. It was poor. It got boring fast. It was fun to see CD as a total bitch. 2 stars
12/01/98 The Dude This movie was so fucking funny i almost pissed my pants thinking about it on the way home 5 stars
11/30/98 Johny Scores points with me for it's "screw-em if they can't take a joke" attitude 5 stars
11/24/98 Freyja Oh yeah, killing chicks while fucking them is fucking hilarious. har har! OK, it WAS funny! 2 stars
11/17/98 StenoHead Not at all for pussies. 4 stars
10/19/98 Aint-It-Cool I just saw a preview of Very Bad Things... oh my god... it rocked! 5 stars
8/28/98 Mister Whoopee Loved this film. Lots of great performances, great writing-directing from a debutant. 5 stars
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  25-Nov-1998 (R)


  04-Feb-1999 (R)

Directed by
  Peter Berg

Written by
  Peter Berg

  Christian Slater
  Cameron Diaz
  Jon Favreau
  Jeremy Piven
  Daniel Stern
  Jeanne Tripplehorn

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