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Domestic Disturbance

Starring John Travolta, Vince Vaughn; Teri Polo, Matt O'Leary and Steve Buscemi
Screenplay by Lewis Colick;
story by Lewis Colick & William S. Comanor & Gary Drucker
Directed by Harold Becker

IN SHORT: One for us guys. [Rated PG-13 for Violence, Brief Sexuality and Language. 95 minutes]

Consider the fact that we've begun Oscar wannabe season, when poor gimp critics like Cranky sit through the most Godawful serious movies and drag our sorry butts from screening to screening, wishing for any movie with no expectations of statue to whisk us away into Good Story Land. Well, God bless Vince Vaughn. You can put (his character) in a half-a-thousand dollar suit and tell him to smile and make nice with everyone he meets and he'll still ooze the evil that (his character) has been stored deep in his heart. Ditto for John Travolta, regardless of garb the (almost) always all around nice guy. Pulp Fiction, for one, exempted. Put the two together and you have the makings of a good popcorn flick for us boys. We say that because of the reactions of the ladies sitting next to us. More about that below.

Speaking about boys, the one in the middle of this story is poor Danny Morrison (Matt O'Leary), a most unhappy kidlet with a tendency to run for the hills every time his mom and dad start fighting. Or get separated. Or divorced. Between hiding in stranger's cars and school truancy violations, Danny is quite a piece of work and both the cops and his parents are tired of it. Perhaps some stability will come from the new husband, Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn), who's swept his mom, Susan (Teri Polo) off her feet. Perhaps it will come from the fact that his dad Frank (John Travolta) stopped drinking. Or maybe Danny will just come to accept Frank's simple explanation that he and Susan love each other but just can't stand living together. The kid's about twelve. He's got no relationship experience and is at the age where boys all decide that our parents don't love us at all. Frank builds wood boats -- the expensive kind -- and, though he wants nothing to do with Rick, he takes the man out on a sail with Danny. A bonding experience at which Rick offers a huge contract to build boats for a new sailing club. Barnes tends to do that in Southport, MD. Spread the cash around. That's why he's going to be "Man of the Year".

But at the wedding of Rick and Susan, the scuzzy looking Ray Coleman (Steve Buscemi) shows up uninvited. He's quiet enough. He's pleasant enough if you hold out your had, but Rick is not pleased that the man has shown. That's because, well, Vince Vaughn stars in the movie. You know something potentially unpleasant is going to happen, sooner or later, just by the look in his eyes. Upset with mom's new marriage and all that biologically follows, Danny runs off. . . again. When he turns up at his real dad's house, he's spouting a story about how he saw Frank kill Ray!

Yeah, right. Everyone knows that Danny always lies when he runs away. His parents know. The police know. Even though he's "never" lied to his dad, Frank has finally had enough. End of story. Not.

Domestic Disturbance shifts gears, logically, just after this point and the way it is staged only slows down the pace at which the inevitable conflict between Travolta and Vaughn could grow. The battle centers on the boy, for different reasons, and the stakes are big. There's no real animosity in this story, which is all well and logical, but it sure would have been a nice extra. And the climax is more violent than we expected in a PG-13 rating, but we're old <g>

As for the two ladies beside me, both got up and left about fifteen - twenty minutes into the film. Then they stopped in the aisle and stood watching for another ten. Then they came back and stuck it out until the end. So, rather than saddle Domestic Disturbance with the usual dateflick level we've (happily) kicked it up a notch...

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Domestic Disturbance, he would have paid . . .


Take a date. If she balks, tell her this is in return for [insert the title of the most awful chick flick you've ever seen here] Buy lots of popcorn.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.