Domestic Disturbance
dir Harold Becker
scr Lewis Colick
with John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Matt O'Leary, Steve Buscemi, Susan Floyd, Angelica Torn, Chris Ellis, Nick Loren, James Lashly, Rebecca Tilney, Debra Mooney
release US 2.Nov.01; UK 11.Jan.02
Paramount 01/US 1h29
1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
anything to save his family Well here's yet another American thriller made with top-notch production values and a cut-and-paste screenplay. Pre-teen Danny Morrison (O'Leary) is having a rough time since his parents Frank and Susan (Travolta and Polo) split up. He's been in constant trouble, lying and cheating. And so when he witnesses his charming new stepdad Rick (Vaughn) kill someone, no one believes him. He's just rebelling against his family situation. But Frank believes Danny's story, and sets out to prove that Rick is a monstrous villain ... and of course to protect his son at all cost!

Oh please. It's all just so dull and predictable that unless you switch off your brain completely there's no way you can get involved in any aspect of this film. Sure, Becker has just enough directoral style to keep things looking interesting--and occasionally make us jump--but he's also turning increasingly into one of those anonymous Hollywood hacks, painting scenes in the broadest strokes with cliched characters and settings and no ambiguity whatspever (Frank builds old-fashioned wooden boats--good! Rick drives a big black car--bad!). Travolta is fine, acting on about half his cylinders, while Vaughn and Polo fill their roles adequately and Buscemi is wasted in a role that should be much more quirky and sleazy than it is. O'Leary, though, is a real find. He makes Danny a character we can actually engage with, and we can only hope he'll get much better scripts than this in the future. The way he maintains his dignity in the film's excruciatingly inane coda is especially admirable!
themes, violence, language cert 12 8.Jan.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
anything to save his family send your review to Shadows... "John Travolta is divorced, and his ex (Polo) is marrying this seemingly great guy (Vaughn) who just came to town, has tons of money and everyone loves him. He has bought some businesses in town, and even offers Travolta some work which could bolster his wooden boat building business, and even he has to concede that no one wants wooden boats anymore. A stranger shows up at the ceremony, claiming to be an old friend of the groom, then he disappears, and Travolta's son (O'Leary) claims that he saw his stepfather murder the guy - but there is no evidence, only the word of a 12-year-old boy who has a history of lying - but he has never lied to his father. This movie kept me on the edge of my seat - the poor boy was terrified of his stepfather, who really did murder the guy, and secretly threatens his stepson to shut up and keep his mom happy. And no one believes him except his father. Vaughn is our new bad guy - he is awesome as the two-faced stranger to town; sweet and loving to his new wife, evil and sneering to his step son. I could kinda predict how it was going to end, but could not entirely figure how it would get there. I really enjoyed this suspenseful movie - Travolta plays his part well. Vaughn is awesome as the guy you love to hate! Some of the scary parts really made me jump! I highly recommend seeing this movie." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 3.Nov.01

"I won't even dignify it with a review. Suffice to say we snickered all the way through, as it simply got worse and worse. We had a great time, though." --Dave Swain, Massachusetts 11.Dec.01

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall