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Peter Berg
Christian Slater, Daniel Stern, Cameron Diaz
Writing Credits:
Peter Berg

When a prostitute gets killed during a bachelor party, the attendees turn on each other.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 2.9
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 100 min.
Price: $27.99
Release Date: 1/28/2020

• Audio Commentary with Film Critics Witney Seibold and William Bibbiani
• Interview with Actor Jeremy Piven
• Interview with Actor Daniel Stern
• Trailer
• Still Gallery


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Very Bad Things: Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 6, 2020)

Though Peter Berg initially attained success in Hollywood via his acting career, circa 2020 he seems best-known for his work behind the camera. Berg made his directorial debut with 1998’s black comedy Very Bad Things.

On the verge of marriage to Laura Gerrety (Cameron Diaz), Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) heads to Las Vegas for his bachelor party. Along with four of his pals, he enjoys much debauchery, including a private hotel performance from stripper Tina (Carla Scott).

Tina will do more than just disrobe, so Kyle’s buddy Michael Berklow (Jeremy Piven) drops $500 to enjoy sex with her. When this goes a little wild, Michael accidentally impales Tina on a hanger in the bathroom and she dies.

After some discussion, Robert Boyd (Christian Slater) convinces the others to bury Tina’s corpse in the desert and avoid legal ramifications. Inevitable complications arise, as the men start to buckle under the stress.

The theme of Things offers nothing new, but the execution seems pure 1990's. The film brings yet another take on the age-old story of how evil begets evil and those who misbehave will eventually pay in the end. Of course, as popular as that theme may be, it ain't necessarily true. That's one reason that I so loved 1995’s Se7en, as it delivered one of the few movies that dared to imply evil could win in the end.

Very Bad Things doesn't go that route. No spoilers here, but be certain that justice will be served in the end. <:> In a lot of ways, Very Bad Things resembled a more comedic, less thoughtful version of 1998’s A Simple Plan. While both films feature different events, they share their concern with the negative ramifications of lies and cover-ups.

In both pictures, the characters accidentally slay somebody, but that's not their true sin. In the end, the participants pay for their attempts to hide their actions and evade justice.

A Simple Plan used that theme to function as a true character study of the effects deception have on us and how we react to that pressure. Very Bad Things works along the same lines, but in a much more extreme, exaggerated manner. It's a true 1990's movie in that it's loud, brash, and relentlessly "in your face”.

God help me, but I do look forward to the day when obnoxious, pushy behavior is not regarded as positive. Unfortunately, I'm probably going to have to wait quite some time for that to happen (if ever), because it seems that various media tend to view such behaviors as urgent and "real".

Sorry, but I don't see it that way, and that's my main problem with Very Bad Things. In the place of real drama it substitutes hysterics and screaming, and none of the characters ever rise above the level of caricature. It creates quite a ruckus but lacks any kind of real insight or purpose.

Granted, it's clear that the filmmakers didn’t actually try for that kind of movie. Very Bad Things no more strives to accurately depict human reactions to stressful situations than There’s Something About Mary tried to provide a realistic picture of romantic relationships.

That's a pretty apt comparison. As Very Bad Things substitutes histrionics for drama, Mary offered disgusting visuals instead of actual humor.

Still, Very Bad Things isn't a terrible movie - it certainly isn't in the same league as puerile dreck like Mary. While I don't care for the film's many excesses, I still find it to become moderately entertaining.

It feels obvious that the film will bring an absurdly unhappy ending, so most of the fun becomes fun to see how it gets there. Whole you know each character will experience a dismal fate, the journey comes with some entertainment.

In addition, Very Bad Things features a pretty terrific cast. None of them seem terribly memorable here, but they all help make the film more entertaining than it otherwise would have been.

Things too often feels like a relic of its era, and it never quite connects as well as it should. It’s a watchable dark comedy that shows promise but remains fairly mediocre overall.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Very Bad Things appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The transfer seemed surprisingly mediocre.

For the most part, sharpness was good. However, exceptions occurred, as some aspects of the flick – mostly wider elements – could be a mushy and ill-defined.

In particular, shots in the Vegas bathroom looked oddly fuzzy. Still, the majority of the film demonstrated fairly positive delineation.

I witnessed no jagged edges or shimmering, but some edge haloes cropped up along the way. The image looked grainier than anticipated – possibly due to some digital noise – and a few small specks appeared.

Things went with a brown-influenced palette, and the colors lacked much impact. These tended to feel overly heavy, so expect hues that appeared decent but unexceptional.

Blacks were a bit too dark, and shadows showed passable clarity, though low-light shots could seem a little thick. This felt like a disappointing presentation.

Though not exceptional, I felt more pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Things. As with most comedies, the soundfield largely remained anchored to the forward channels, but the mix spread out the audio to a satisfying degree.

The front speakers showed fine stereo separation for the music, and they also offered a clean and accurate sense of spatiality and ambience. Sounds blended together well, and they moved neatly between channels.

The surrounds usually presented general atmosphere, but they came to life nicely at times. For example, the more violent scenes added some breadth.

Audio quality seemed positive. Speech appeared fairly warm and natural, and I heard no signs of edginess or problems related to intelligibility.

Effects didn’t seem outstanding, but they replicated the material with acceptable accuracy and depth. Music showed nice dynamic range as well, as highs seemed to be clean and bright, while low-end was clean and fairly deep. In the end, Things provided a good but unexceptional soundtrack.

A few extras appear, and we get an audio commentary from film critics Witney Seibold and William Bibbiani. Both sit together for this running, screen—specific look at film interpretation, genre areas, and some production notes.

Seibold and Bibbiani mesh well and create a lively track, one that offers some pretty good insights related to Things and other movies. While I might like a little more about the flick’s actual creation, the commentary proves more than satisfactory.

Two interviews follow, the first of which comes from actor Jeremy Piven. In this 17-minute, 23-second reel, Piven discusses working with director Peter Berg, story/characters, experiences during the production and his performance.

I’m glad Piven gave the interview, but he doesn’t bring a lot of insights. Piven tends to keep things superficial in this semi-forgettable chat.

Next we get a chat with actor Daniel Stern. During the 21-minute piece, he tells about a prank he pulled on the set as well as notes from the shoot. Stern proves more informative than Piven and makes this a pretty good interview.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a Still Gallery. It includes 73 images that mix promo materials and shots from the set. It becomes a decent compilation.

Very Bad Things offers a moderately entertaining experience, although all the hysterics are likely to get on your nerves sooner than later. It also shows its age and feels too inconsistent to satisfy. The Blu-ray comes with erratic visuals, decent audio and a few bonus materials. Most interesting for its cast’s later careers, Things seems hit and miss.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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