Domestic Disturbance (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner01/10/2002

Two out of five stars
Running time: 89 mins

Watchable but occasionally laughable thriller, redeemed from one-star ignominy only by Steve Buscemi’s excellent support performance.

Domestic Disturbance is another film in the increasingly tedious Fill-in-the-blank-From-Hell genre, with Vince Vaughan playing the Stepfather-From-Hell. Director Harold Becker made Sea of Love with Al Pacino, so you’d expect him to know a thing or two about thrillers, but sadly, even his Doctor-From-Hell movie (Malice) was better than this.

Still, the film is at least guaranteed a little notoriety, as co-stars Vince Vaughan and Steve Buscemi were both injured in a barroom brawl with some locals during the filming in North Carolina, with Buscemi requiring emergency throat surgery.

A surprisingly not-too-chubby Travolta plays Frank Morrison, a boat-building father whose ex-wife (Teri Polo, from Meet The Parents) is about to marry Vince Vaughan’s new-guy-in-town Rick Barnes.

So, when Travolta’s son (Matt O’Leary – surprisingly likeable for a child actor) witnesses Vaughan murder an old colleague (Steve Buscemi in a superb supporting performance that is far better than the film deserves), Travolta is the only one that believes him, because, as he painstakingly explains, although the kid is a local troublemaker, "he has never lied to me". Can you guess what happens? Of course you can…

This is really a thriller-by-numbers, with all clichés present and correct. However, to be absolutely fair, they have tried hard to inject a few refreshing changes into the formula – for example, immediately after witnessing the murder the boy tells his parents and they go straight to the police. Who, of course, don’t believe a word of it, but -hey!- at least they tried, right?

It’s very easy to criticise Travolta these days, but in fact, he isn’t that bad here and, for the most part, underplays his role nicely rather than go for all-out heroics. Vaughan reprises his psycho-act from, well, from Psycho and does a pretty decent job of humanising the character – you believe him when he says that he genuinely loves Polo, and he plays the part with the world-weary air of someone who knows he can’t escape his past.

However, both Travolta and Vaughan have the film comprehensively stolen from under their noses by Steve Buscemi, who is only in it for around twenty minutes, but is by far the best thing in the film, whether he’s uttering a catch-phrase from a film or TV show only he seems to have seen ("I kid you not!"), asking Travolta if their picture-perfect New England town has any adult book-stores or ordering a hooker to watch basketball games on TV with.

Ultimately, though, the film is let down by a laughable script, particularly in the final scenes where the cops are forced to apologise for not believing the boy. To sum up, then, this is watchable, but entirely missable, though if you’re a fan of Steve Buscemi you might consider sneaking into the film and leaving after he gets killed…

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Content updated: 13/12/2017 22:46

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