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  Wild Things In It For The Money
Year: 1998
Director: John McNaughton
Stars: Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Theresa Russell, Denise Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robert Wagner, Bill Murray, Carrie Snodgress, Jeff Perry, Corey Prendergast, Marc Macaulay, Toi Svane, Dennis Neal, Diane Adams, Paolo Benedeti
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) is a guidance councllor in this Florida high school who is much respected by teachers and students alike. Today he assembles the seniors for a talk, including heiress Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) who salaciously comments to her friend that Lombardo is the only reason for sticking around there, but the discussion is serious as he introduces a couple of police officers, Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) and Gloria Perez (Daphne Rubin-Vega), to lecture the students on sex crimes - how to avoid them, what to do if they happen, and so on. But Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) walks out in disgust...

Wild Things was a talking point thriller in that there were a couple of aspects which kept people discussing it, and continue to discuss it. For those reasons it became a cult movie, but also for another in that it became one of those movies where if you happened to stumble across it on late night television it would draw you in, even if you'd seen it before and knew all the twists. And what a lot of twists there were, so much so that the plot moved from intriguing - you're aware all is not as it seems - to downright daft as screenwriter Stephen Peters piled revelation upon revelation and strained credibility to the maximum, even well into the end credits.

But of course, that was why it became so amusing to its fans, and for those innocent viewers who were genuinely taken aback by the scheming of the characters it played very well. More jaded audiences were less likely to be impressed and more than one complaint was voiced that it was incredibly daft, with everything, every action, every development, geared towards eliciting an audience reaction, and that reaction was intended to be one of amazement at each fresh surprise. As it began, it appeared to be setting up as a courtroom drama when Lombardo is accused of rape by Kelly, but from what we can tell, it's possible he has been set up as revenge for ignoring the girl's advances.

Then those twists begin, as Suzie makes a claim that Lombardo raped her as well, and this accusation appears to hold more water, so he hires the only lawyer who will take his case, Ken Bowden (Bill Murray on excellent form), something of a shyster judging by his own affectation of a neck brace for the benefit of the "insurance people". To perhaps no one's surprise if they'd ever seen a courtroom thriller where the hero's lawyer is rather shady, that sleazy surface masks a razor sharp mind and the next of the big twists is offered up to put a different spin on the proceedings, so things progress towards the scene everyone was keen to see (again?) when this made its debut on home video, the threesome.

Even mentioning the participants in that would be spoiling the plot, but suffice to say it was a point where what had been a fairly solid mystery with a cast of characters most of whom seemed to have something concealed, transformed into a ridiculous put-on by the filmmakers where the pleasure derived from seeing how far they would go in messing you around. And the conventions of the genre too, as if it had got so far that the only way of doing something original with it was to verge on, then plunge straight into, self-parody. Yet there was more to this, in that it summed up the increasing mood of a society in the nineties and beyond which had misgivings, then outright suspicions about everyone, where each person in authority possessed an ulterior motive, and further to that the people you met in day to day life, to the extent that nobody trusted anyone anymore, or at least that was the atmosphere movies such as Wild Things liked to propogate. Still, threesome scene, right? Music by George S. Clinton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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