Very Bad Things

Bomb Rating: 

There's something wrong with the tone of this film, not to mention the premise. My guess is that during breaks between years of unfulfilling minor character roles, writer/director Peter Berg sat around in his trailer, jotting down deranged fantasies about putting his co-workers through a lot of pain. When he finally got his chance to direct, he pulled out that shoe box with all those little slips of paper, gave it a vigorous shake, and out popped the screenplay for "Very Bad Things."

"Very Bad Things" is, at least, aptly titled. Very bad things happen. Unfortunately, they happen to very bad people, and thus the audience could care less. Okay, so some horny guy, Michael (Jeremy Piven), screws a hooker and accidentally impales her on a towel hook. You feel sort of sorry for the hooker, but once he and his bachelor party buddies decide to cover the whole thing up, you don't really care what happens to them, you just hope it happens quickly.

Robert (Christian Slater) is really the one behind it, convincing groom-to-be Kyle (Jon Favreau) and cronies Charles (Leland Orser) and Adam (Daniel Stern) not to report the incident. It doesn't take Robert long to get them into even more trouble and at that point, when the characters fail to act like regular human beings, having very bad things happen to them is uninteresting at best. There's also Kyle's fiancé, Laura (Cameron Diaz), waiting at home. Her incessant screeching about the details of the wedding becomes so grating that you find yourself wishing desperately to see her impaled on a towel hook.

Dark comedies are dark because bad things happen to good or marginal characters. For instance, Martha Stewart drowning in a cesspool is funny. Barbra Streisand having all the skin clawed from her legs by rabid badgers is funny. Saddam Hussein taking a harpoon through the forehead is not funny; it's just a relief.

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