Very Bad Things (1998)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy  |   Release Date - Nov 25, 1998 (USA)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

As mean-spirited as they come, Peter Berg's Very Bad Things is a real case of truth in advertising. The film is full of things that could generously be described as "very bad." Through just the right -- or perhaps wrong -- combination of recklessness, poor decision-making, and bad luck, five friends watch a mostly harmless bachelor party degenerate into murder and other unspeakable unpleasantness. The resulting chain of panic and guilt quickly engulfs their snake-bitten existence. Very Bad Things was criticized, to put it kindly, for parading the worst of human impulses onscreen and seeming to laugh at all the characters while doing so. While some are simply put-upon and essentially good, others, such as Cameron Diaz's "my wedding at all costs" bride-to-be, are beastly caricatures. It's not that the characters act so differently than most people might in such dire circumstances, but that Berg seems to layer on the hoodoo with a perverse glee that's well beyond the normal level of exaggeration needed for a satire. This isn't to say that the squirming isn't occasionally pleasurable -- there are a handful of darkly comic elements executed effectively. The snowballing of disasters is also fascinating simply to see what will happen next, how the characters will handle it, and what the viewer might do differently. But chances are that all but the most jaded viewers will grimace a lot more than they laugh.