ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Domestic Disturbance (2001)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Harold Becker

Starring:
John Travolta/Frank
Vince Vaughn/Rick
Teri Polo/Susan
Matthew O'Leary/Danny
PLOT-CRUNCH
Excessive liar Danny (O'Leary) witnesses his new stepfather (Vaughn) murder some dude. When he tells everybody about it, nobody believes him. Only his real dad, humble boat-builder Frank (Travolta) buys the story and he eventually sets out on a quest to save his ex-family.
THE LOWDOWN
What’s with these typical early 90s type thrillers coming back to haunt us? First, we had “The Glass House” and now we get “Domestic Disturbance” which basically follows the same M.O. I thought the fad was over!

“Domestic Disturbance” is exactly what you think it’s going to be. Don’t expect any surprises because the film doesn’t aim higher than all the other “family” thrillers. If you’ve seen “Unlawful Entry” or “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, then you’ve pretty much seen this flick too. You know how it goes: the thunder crashes on cue and so does the rain. The killer always appears at the right moments (this guy is everywhere) and the hero arrives in the nick of time to save the day. Cut phones lines, killer crashes through window…you know the drill.

This standard thriller does come with mores plot holes than its similar predecessors though. You’re trying to tell me that the police couldn’t find shite in the incinerator? Not a tooth? Not a piece of clothing? Come on! Did they even look? The 5.0. in this film are ineffectual buffoons and give real cops a bad name. The same can be said about the “caring” mother (Polo), who’s so clueless that it's embarrassing. She’s conveniently never around when bad step-daddy threatens the son (O'Leary). Actually, she only pops up to be an obvious plot device to prevent Danny from going to see his real dada. I had big problems with the mom character.

Another qualm I had with the film was the abrupt dismissal of Frank’s girlfriend. I really didn’t buy her exit from the film. It was so evident that they just wanted her out of the story to proceed to act 3. She was baggage and the character shouldn’t have been introduced in the first place. She brought nothing to the film. I have a feeling that the meat of the movie got dumped on the cutting room floor. Whoever cut this baby should be fired and sent back to Burger King to handle the fries. The film moves way too fast (the course of events happen in a blink of an eye), ends too abruptly (in a very predictable way) and on many occasions some scenes are badly cut. It makes for an awkward flow. The film never takes the time to really get into what it sets up (why did Vaughn owe money again?), resolves its obstacles way too simply (who needs the police when you got the Internet) and never capitalizes on its potentially creepy premise. This bitch is in a hurry ya'll!

On the flip side, I was still entertained for an hour and a half but for all the wrong reasons. It was kind of groovy second-guessing the whole movie and seeing that I was right every single time. I also enjoyed laughing at the characters who made all of the wrong moves in order for a “suspense” scene to kick in or to serve the plot. Vaughn is a blast to watch, especially if like me, you’re a big fan of his. I relished every moment that he was on screen. Travolta is also in good form and I appreciated the occasional humor he injected into his character. Buscemi shows up for another small quirky role (think "Fargo"), some of the “tense” scenes actually worked on me for a split second, and I have to admit that I was "into" the film the whole way. So where does that leave us? Save your cash, this is a video rental at best for that boring Tuesday night when the girl/boyfriend can’t come over for oral pleasure. It’s the Arrow’s turn to go domestic…
GORE
Nothing major. A head through a window, a bad burn, a stabbing, baseball bat to the head…the basics.
ACTING
John Travolta (Frank) gives a sympathetic turn as the “nice” dad and even brings a few subtle bits of humor to the role. His hair is also impeccable. I’m a huge Vince Vaughn (Rick) fan and he’s perfectly cast as the menacing killer (shades of his Norman Bates part). He plays it all very real...no caricature here. Is it me or did he look hungover in his close-ups? Vaughn you don’t have to party every night, bro! Teri Polo (Susan) is pretty and does what she can with her flimsy written role. Matthew O'Leary (Danny) is convincing and didn’t annoy me as much as I thought he would (the whole film could’ve been avoided by a good spanking though). Kids today, they’re such a hassle.
T & A
Teri Polo keeps her shirt on and so does Vaughn…nobody’s happy.
DIRECTING
Pretty straightforward with a few hints of style when Vaughn shows up to be evil. Lights shine on his face, the camera pans to reveal that he’s there and we get some play with shadows. Nothing really special in this department but I will admit that the tension worked on some occasions.
SOUNDTRACK
A very generic “thriller” score…bah...
BOTTOM LINE
“Domestic Disturbance” is the kind of movie that your mom will love. It’s quick, simple and plays it very safe. On the other hand, hardcore “movie buffs” might get turned off by the film’s lack of exploration in regards to what it sets up, its stupidity and predictability. As for me, I saw the mistakes, laughed at them and enjoyed the Vaughn man. You’re still the money, baby! If you want a “real” psycho step-daddy flick go rent "The Stepfather" instead. It’s a true nail-biter that explores a similar situation but with way more depth and gutso. “We need order around here”-- Jerry Blake
BULL'S EYE
During the shoot, Steve Buscemi, Vince Vaughn and screenwriter Scott Rosenberg were out at a bar drinking. Some chick hit on Vaughn and that pissed her boyfriend off. Needless to say, a bar brawl ensued and Buscemi got stabbed in the process. Only the guy who stabbed Buscemi got charged. My question is: what was Rosenberg doing there, did he work on the film incognito?
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