Although, quite honestly, I don't have a particular problem with porn (it just isn't in the regular canon of films to be reviewed, that's all), that simple joke often proves true. One-too-many guilty pleasure flicks have been bashed by me on the account that they do nothing other than serve as a generalized platform for commercializing sex without any other cinematic value. And, although I am willing to give points in such a B-or-C-grade film for casting a woman with certain... assets... that suit the part, I find myself unable to otherwise turn off the "critic's switch" within me to the point that I can be guiltlessly turned on by the images in front of me on the screen.
This, reader who has stuck with me for two paragraphs of my explanation of why I don't particularly care for porn, is why I have absolutely no reservations about giving Wild Things my seal of approval.
Hands down, Wild Things is the most guilt-inducing guilty pleasure movie that I have ever watched... until you get to the end. When you do get to the end, you realize that, as sleazy of a film as Wild Things is, it is actually a brilliantly concocted, Hitchcock-with-a-hard-on, mystery thriller.
Wild Things is the story of Blue Bay, a 'Glades town where everyone has money, or works for someone who has money. And, when I say that they are working boys or girls, I mean this in the Melanie Griffith/Elisabeth Shue sort of way. In Blue Bay, Sam Lombardo (Dillon) is the high school Guidance Counselor. After a particularily erotic car wash with Denise Richards (the "hi, Mr. Lombardo" from the previews), Kelly Van Ryan (Richards) accuses Lombardo of rape. Lacking any physical evidence, the go-getter cop Duqette (Bacon) searches for something to back up the charges so that an arrest can be made. When Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) backs up the story, Lombardo is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
And this is just the first 40 minutes.
Wild Things is a movie that dolls out a sex scene every five minutes and a major plot twist every two minutes. Whether you happen to stay for the sex scenes or the plot twists, make sure you stay. The movie gets progressively more and more sleazy and, ironically, less and less of a guilt to watch.
In that way, Wild Things really screws with your head. It goes around, making you rethink your assumptions every thirty seconds, and has you continually guessing at what happens next. Of course, the surprises aren't just in the script. A surprise is that Kevin Bacon and Denise Richards actually turn out good performances, and that Bill Murray (in a bit role) turns out an excellent one. Another surprise is that John McNaughten would pick up such a definitely naughty picture, and yet another surprise is the excellent funk score by George S. Clinton.
This film is a guilty pleasure without the guilt. It is my new answer when people badger me with the question of whether or not I review porn, and my new answer as to why there can be movies that are so bad they're good.
I think I, uh, love you.
Run time: 108 mins
In Theaters: Friday 20th March 1998
Box Office Worldwide: $67.2M
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Production compaines: Columbia Pictures, Mandalay Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Fresh: 37 Rotten: 21
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: John McNaughton
Producer: Steven A. Jones, Rodney M. Liber
Screenwriter: Stephen Peters
Starring: Matt Dillon as Sam Lombardo, Kevin Bacon as Sergeant Ray Duquette, Denise Richards as Kelly Lanier Van Ryan, Neve Campbell as Suzie Marie Toller, Theresa Russell as Sandra Van Ryan, Bill Murray as Kenneth Bowden, Robert Wagner as Tom Baxter, Daphne Rubin-Vega as Detective Gloria Perez, Jeff Perry as District Attorney Bryce Hunter, Eduardo Yáñez as Frankie Condo, Jennifer Taylor as Barbara Baxter, Cory Pendergast as Jimmy Leach, Marc Macaulay as Walter, Toi Svane Stepp as Nicole, Dennis Neal as Art Maddox, Diane Adams as School Secretary, Paulo Benedeti as Kirk, Victoria Bass as Judge, Ted Bartsch as Bailiff, Leonor Anthony as Ken's Secretary, Antoni Corone as Police Chief, Robert Deacon as Prisoner, Anthony Giaimo as Dave, Manny Suarez as Georgie, Janet Bushor as Barmaid, Gina LaMarca as Hooker, Nancy Duerr as Reporter #1, Margo Peace as Reporter #2, Keith Wilson as Reporter #3, Nelson Oramas as Policeman #1, Michael Dean Walker as Policeman #2, Jesse Muson as Policeman #3, Kimberly Lamaze as Policewoman #1, Rebecca White as Policewoman #2
Also starring: Stephen Peters
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