Wild Things (R)

7 Stars

If you read my reviews (and I don’t know why you would; it’s mostly blow-hardy nonsense) you’ll notice I attribute merit to elaborate fight sequences.

Literally, I believe there is narrative value in a masterfully choreographed battle. To give it antagonistic slant, it might be called ‘delighting in death.’

Why? For two reasons:

1)    I can cite two credible books on writing supporting the use of violence in stories (particularly those slated for a male audience).

2)    Show me a dude that doesn’t like the gunfight from The Matrix or the ‘one versus many’ battle between Neo and unlimited Agent Smiths in The Matrix Reloaded, and I’ll lose one more potential friend. Or even just the bar fight in The Replacements.

I feel the same about sexual content as I do violence.

It’s strenuous, but I must be even-handed about this movie; this film doesn’t deserve its stigma.

What stigma?

When I told a movie buff pal from college about watching Mulholland Drive, the reply text read: ‘Second best lesbian scene to Wild Things.’

The scene she (thought my friend was male, didn’t you?) refers to is when Denise Richards, Neve Campbell and Matt Dillon engage in a steamy threesome.

Yes it’s fun to watch, but wow it’s blown out of proportion.

This isn’t a pornographic film, Proverbial Audience.

Just because she’s scantily clad in most scenes, doesn’t detract from Richards’s performance as Kelly Van Ryan. She’s very good in this movie, just like in Starship Troopers.

Does Richards lose points for being super hot? She isn’t discussed very often.

Perhaps partially because Kelly’s midriff is bare in almost every outfit. But criticisms proclaiming an excess of skin don’t belong in my book.

So the movie is very sexualized. Without that tension, I don’t believe it’s half as enjoyable.

What is Body Heat without the sexual tension? How about Fatal Attraction or Basic Instinct or Cruel Intentions or anything featuring James Bond?

[See those movies if you haven’t.]

Neve Campbell’s acting is very good. She comes off a little strong in the contrarian role. Perhaps it’s her liberal use of the ‘F-word.’

Overall she does a good job with a tough part, though.

Kevin Bacon’s solid as usual. For most of the movie he’s the thoughtful, more reserved Bacon, but towards the end a hint of his character from Diner peeks through.

Bill Murray is more reserved as well, doing more ‘bare bones’ acting than in his usual roles as the funny guy. His character’s quietly humorous, but compelling too.

Finally, Matt Dillon’s fine. I’m afraid he did what he could with a difficult role. Just like Campbell’s character, I’m not sure how to improve upon the acting performance. He could use a bit more characterization outside of being the ‘handsome and friendly smooth-talker.’

The problem is a generalized feeling you get. An awareness you’re viewing a movie that’s generally accepted as ‘good’ not ‘great,’ at its very best.

There are some minor details I can name that are more concretely weak. Such as the Van Ryan family’s ability to live above the law.

But overall, I wish I’d seen this when I was younger and unaware of the famous threesome scene. I’m afraid I would have enjoyed it more without the stigma in mind.

The greatest part of this movie is the additional scenes, featured at the beginning of the rolling credits. The shots tie up all loose ends (most of which the audience is unaware of), and twist the story in a few final (and rather satisfying) ways.

Overall, Wild Things is very good. It’s well made, features an intricate storyline and is just a lot of fun. Plus, it’s available for instant streaming via Netflix.

Movie fans! If you’ve been putting it off because you’re afraid the quality’s ‘ungood,’ now’s the time to watch it.

There. You have my permission.

Check Wild Things off the list.

Thoughts, perchance?

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