Very Bad Things
directed by Peter Berg
(PolyGram, 1998)

A bunch of guys go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. They gamble, drink, use various drugs and smash furniture. The most pathetic member of the group decides to make use of a handy prostitute and, in the process, impales her on a towel hook. A security guard investigating noise complaints gets in the way of their hasty cleanup. And so begins a 100-minute calamity of filmmaking.

Writer-director Peter Berg assembled a fine cast -- Cameron Diaz, John Favreau, Leland Orser, Jeremy Piven, Christian Slater, Daniel Stern and Jeanne Tripplehorn -- and does nothing good with them. Shooting, no doubt, for a black comedy combined with the gross excesses of a Farrelly Brothers movie, Berg comes up short on all counts. There are no likeable characters, there's far too much screaming and attempts at humor are unsettling.

There's nothing groundbreaking here -- Heathers and Shallow Grave did this sort of thing much better, and years before -- although the film seems to be very pleased with its own audacity. It is, in the final analysis, simply an uninspired, mean-spirited piece of work.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 10 October 2003

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