Wild Things

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: John McNaughton

REVIEWED: 03-30-98

What a sweet little fuck-you of a movie, this "Abnormal Life," this craven, sun-soaked, color-drenched "Wild Things," shameless subtropical sleaze set in an upscale Miami yachting community. Ah, the glories of trash. Matt Dillon is a high school guidance counselor at Blue Bay High (blue balls?) who's accused of raping first one female student, then another, and an investigation by vice cop Kevin Bacon leads to a pile-up of single-minded reversals and wild contradictions that continue even beyond the end credits. The whole package is ripe beyond belief, the first of director John McNaughton's features since "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" to approach the flat-out nihilism of that cold classic. Denise Richards ("Starship Troopers") is the yupscale first accuser, luscious, plastic, unreal, resentful of her mother, Theresa Russell, shown bikini-ed as a concupiscent slab of mature womanhood; the second accuser is "swamp trash" Neve Campbell, butched-out with mehndi markings along her arms, kohl-rimed eyes and a full-on pout matched only by her tense dancers' calves. But McNaughton's corn porn is equal opportunity, giving Kevin Bacon a full frontal nude scene and alternating Dillon in butt-clinging khaki shorts with a Lycra-clad cheerleading squad with pronounced pubic mounds. Bill Murray is on hand as a low-rent lawyer, channeling his brother, Brian Doyle-Murray. Courtroom explosions are matched by aquatic catfights, all to a score by Zalman King's customary composer George S. Clinton that mingles with the dirty urgency of music by soundtrack contributors Morphine. The daylong, night-wide meanness is matched by the rashly trashy dialogue, such as Campbell gurgling, "What took you so long? What if somebody was... fucking me in the ass or something?"; Richards' "His fingers... they were in me... both places, you know?" and the classic of class resentment, spat out on the witness stand, "He raped me on the floor of his shitty house!" The ending of this film makes me very happy; there's no need to try to explicate the litany of jaw-dropping turns--they never quite qualify as twists--the story woven by these rancid souls continues to play throughout the end credits, adding a detail here, elaborating on a scene there, playing outrageous games with a narrative that was supposed to have ended five minutes earlier. 113m.

--Ray Pride

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