A scene from 'Wild Things'
Courtesy Photo
**1/2 stars 108 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, March 20, 1998
Directed by John McNaughton

Starring Neve Campbell, Matt Dillon, Denise Richards, Kevin Bacon, Theresa Russell, Bill Murray & Robert Wagner


Great rental. Doesn't lose much to the small screen as long as you get it in widescreen.

Commentary with director, editor, cinematographer, composer George Clinton & a couple producers is full of interesting location stories & technical details, but nothing about the actors & performances. Clinton's comments about the musical cues are some of the most fascinating stuff.

A couple deleted scenes, trailer.

2.35:1 ratio; Dolby 5.1, 2.0
DUBS: French
SUBS: English, French
Very good



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Crafty, tawdry sex thriller suspenseful but overly complex

By Rob Blackwelder

In its final 45 minutes, "Wild Things" boasts some surprising twists. A whodunit with a '90s mentality, it has back stabbing conspirators, a bi-sexual love triangle and teenage temptresses claiming rape. It's moderately entertaining trash that turns crafty in the last reel when it is finally called on to explain itself.

But until then, the only (cheap) thrill comes courtesy of Denise Richards ("Starship Troopers"), playing high school tease Kelly Van Ryan, and the wet T-shirt she sports while coming on to her high school guidance counselor, Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) -- whom she later accuses of rape.

A rich girl cheerleader with a horny lush for a mother (Theresa Russell), Kelly is joined by another student, the trailer trash-styled Suzie (Neve Campbell, "Scream," etc.) in taking Lombardo to court on rape charges.

But when Suzie breaks down on the stand, confessing that the manipulative Kelly had put her up to it and neither of them were raped at all, Lombardo sues Kelly's family, winning several million dollars.

With all that out of the way, the real plot begins when Kelly, Suzie and the vindicated, newly rich Sam Lombardo meet in a hotel room for a celebratory threesome. It seems they're all lovers and planned the whole thing to sap some cash from Kelly's tightwad mother.

If you think that sounds like an unnecessarily complicated way to swipe a few mill, just wait.

This barely R-rated, teenage "Dynasty" -- complete with a swimming pool cat fight -- is just as exploitive as it sounds. With more explicit sex scenes and smaller stars it could be a feature on the Playboy Channel.

But somehow director John McNaughton ("Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer") manages to play up the suspense while shamelessly milking the story's trashiest elements, as if he's daring the audience to take him seriously when he has his tongue firmly in-cheek the whole time.

He often cuts to shots of alligators for no reason except that the story takes place in south Florida, and he occasionally wheels out actors like Bill Murray (as a skid row defense attorney) or Robert Wagner (as a country club owner) to chew scenery and spout lines like "You're finished here Lombardo! Take a hike!"

The plot gets exponentially weirder as the conspirators begin to turn on each other when a determined cop (Kevin Bacon) closes in on them. Soon other clandestine cohorts in the plan start coming out of the woodwork and the last 20 minutes of the movie is nothing but a parade of wild plot twists.

But unnecessarily complex does not equal clever, and ultimately "Wild Things" is more sex than mystery. Richards' body is on display throughout, Campbell's contract had a no-nudity clause, but she comes awful close, and even Bacon goes full frontal in a late scene that leads the audience to momentarily expect some boy-boy hanky-panky to balance Richards-Campbell saphic pow-wow earlier in the movie.

However, McNaughton does one ingenious thing that makes "Wild Things" at least worth a video rental -- he accompanies the closing credits with out-takes that fill in the story's holes.

These are scenes that, had they been shown in sequence, would have ruined everything, but in retrospect make the audience feel privy to the entire plot now that they know the outcome.

It's a smart, resourceful new take on the old Miss Marple Explains It All scene at the end of every Agatha Christie movie, and this flash of creativity made me decide at the last minute that I liked the picture in spite of myself.

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