Quick Movie Review: Wild Things (1998)

wild things

If you take this film for what it is, it’s really entertaining. The plot twists not only surprise you, but move the story in different and unexpected directions each time.

Wild Things is towards the top of the guilty pleasures list for many movie fans. It can often be found right next to Showgirls and Grease. It’s not good because it’s good, it’s good because it’s not. Yet this one has something that those other two don’t–a pretty good story.

The premise starts out with Matt Dillon playing Sam Lombardo, a high school guidance counselor who is framed for rape by Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards), the daughter of the richest family in town.

Right off the bat, the main theme seems to be how even the accusation of rape can haunt you for your whole life. It makes you think that this is where it’s going. Pretty interesting concept. We’re invested. But then it departs from that and proceeds to get absolutely insane.

Spoiler alert: There are a good amount of plot twists in this film. I won’t tell you what they are. But my review references their existence on several occasions.

The name of the game in this film is how many crazy plot twists can they fit into a 2 hour film. I’m not complaining. It’s a lot of fun. You usually don’t see them coming. Even when you think you’re starting to catch on, they throw you another curveball.

The constant twists create an unconventional narrative–placing beats in parts of the film you don’t expect them to be. The exposition is pretty roundabout, rather than being handed to us on a silver platter–even before all the craziness happens.

It’s really not as convoluted as it seems. If you stop to think about it, you can easily piece everything together. As opposed to some films that make themselves confusing so that you can’t see the plot holes. And Wild Things actually seems to avoid most of these anyway.

There’s another girl involved–Suzie (Neve Campbell), who comes out and says that Mr. Lombardo raped her as well. There’s also an obsessive cop, played by Kevin Bacon, and Mr. Lombardo’s attorney, who’s surprisingly played by Bill Murray.

The dialogue is pretty silly at moments, and the acting is marginal. But both Murray and Campbell stand out as far superior to the rest. At times, it’s like they’re reading from a completely different script altogether.

You can almost always tell when characters are lying–almost like the director does it intentionally. And due to the twisting and turning nature of the plot, it’s hard to establish any depth for the characters. The motives are usually suspect at best.

The film’s biggest downfall is perhaps the very thing that makes it enjoyable. We love the who-can-you-trust type of thrill, but at the same time it fails to give us a character we can actually like.

As much as we love that initial plot twist, part of us is sad to realize that everything before it is a lie. But then we realize that this whole film is all about who you can or can’t trust. That nobody is who they appear to be. The basis of liking this film depends on how well you can handle that fact.

Twizard Rating: 83

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Quick Movie Review: Halloweentown (1998)

halloweentown

The 1990s. Back when children’s television was at an all-time high, child actors weren’t hired for their looks, and Disney Channel Original Movies didn’t talk down to kids. In 1997, Disney rebranded their TV movies under the Disney Channel Original Movie marquee and their style of films also changed. They started featuring younger kids as main characters and had them dealing with their own issues. In 1998, Disney released their 5th DCOM, Halloweentown. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but as a kid it invoked our imagination. The script is full of wit, and the talent here is really impressive too–especially the lead actress, Kimberly J. Brown, who went on to also star in another DCOM, Quints. Debbie Reynolds is also fantastic here as the adventurous and crazy grandmother that every kid wants.

Being a really fun live-action film for kids, Halloweentown doesn’t come without its faults. The dialogue can be a bit cheesy on occasion, and the little brother’s cynicism and the mom’s stubbornness get tiresome after awhile. Also, as great of a movie this was as a child, as an adult I realize that the concept is underutilized. There’s this magical place that we still dream about as grownups, however we’re left wanting to see more of this world. Much like Back to the Future Part II when we get enveloped by futuristic Hill Valley to the point where we can fill in the gaps in our minds. With Halloweentown there are too many gaps to fill in that we don’t really feel like we’ve experienced this universe enough. Don’t get me wrong, I still can appreciate this film as an adult. The sets, the costumes, the few buildings that we do see are great. But it would be ten times more entertaining if we got a little more. In theory, Halloweentown is amazing, but we leave feeling cheated. I guess that’s why they made 3 more movies.

It’s easy to just say that the plot was stretched too thin here, but that’s saved for movies that have concepts that can’t be expanded upon. With Halloweentown it’s more of a case that the plot simply wasn’t as thick as it should have been. Because it should be able to get stretched for days and days and never even show signs of thinning. Let’s just hope that they fix this in the sequels.

Basically, as a kid, this film is exactly what you want. Watching as an adult I just yearn for it to reach its potential.

Twizard Rating: 76

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Quick Movie Review: Mighty Joe Young (1998)

Maybe at the time this was released it wasn’t all that appreciated by some older viewers. However, I love a good ’90s movie. 

While not seeing the original yet–although I plan to soon–I can’t compare the two. But all I know is that I really enjoyed this film. I was 9 when it was released and hadn’t watched it until just now. I have to say that I wish I had grown up with this movie. It’s a great family film! It’s predictable even when you think they might stray away from it–but it’s good clean fun that never becomes too apparent that it’s catering to the children. Although the script may not be the strongest, it will do just fine. I wish the characters had been a little deeper, but other than that I think it serves its purpose. Charlize Theron is great and the scene where Joe terrorizes Hollywood is well worth the price of admission. Add the beautiful scenery and the more-than-acceptable effects for 1998, and it’s an easy movie to like! Apparently a little TOO easy for some.

Twizard Rating: 89