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Domestic Disturbance

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rating: PG-13 (For Violence, Brief Sexuality and Language)

Running Time: 89 minutes

Starring: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Matt O'Leary and Steve Buscemi

Screenplay by: Lewis Colick
Story by: Lewis Colick & William S. Comanor & Gary Drucker

Directed by: Harold Becker

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $29.95

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Harold Becker, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary with Director Harold Becker, Storyboards, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (15 Scenes)

Released: April 16th, 2002

 

 

Another comeback film for John Travolta? Hardly. You can't blame the guy for making movies though. He is one of our most talented actors, and Travolta seems to enjoy making these movies. I guess it fulfills him, keeps him up to speed and scores him another paycheck (you can't blame him for that either, he needs to make some money back from "Battlefield Earth"!). But it seems Travolta has had too many comebacks from the late 1980s ("Look Who's Talking") to his Oscar®-nominated turn in the classic "Pulp Fiction" (his true comeback). Yet we have to face that during the past six or so years, Travolta has made some really strong movies with really strong performances, and he's been in some movies that are pretty forgettable, and while he has done a good job in them, the flicks aren't anything groundbreaking. I guess you'd put "Domestic Disturbance" in the latter catagory, however, while it can be a bit standard, I must admit I enjoyed this movie more than I expected.

"Domestic Disturbance" follows Frank Morrison (John Travolta), a divorced father with a good natured though somewhat troubled son named Danny. I suppose Frank's son is a bit troubled because of the divorce of his parents and the whole ordeal that they went through, so it took his toll on him. Danny lies, runs away and is being rebelious, as he's trying to get away from it all and probably make a point to his parents on how much the divorce bothers him. Through it all through, Frank is supportive and encouraging toward his son, not to mention that it seems he is on good terms with everyone.

Anyway, Frank's ex-wife, Susan (Teri Polo) is getting remarried to Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn), a guy that "everybody" just seems to know. However, an "old friend" named Ray (Steve Buscemi) comes into Rick's life just as he gets remarried, and while Rick wants to be on good terms with Danny, we see that he's not the nice guy who he seems to be, but rather, something more evil. Danny ends up watching Rick murdering someone, and naturally, since Danny is troubled, no one believes him, except Frank. Frank decides to investigate Rick more. And yes, Rick has a shady past and it's up to Frank to protect Danny and those he loves.

"Domestic Disturbance" is a bit flawed and pretty stereotypical, plus the fact that it can really be easily predicted. It's a standard film. But I found this movie to be a guilty pleasure. You know what's going to happen, you know who's good, you know who's evil, you know who's telling the truth, you know who's the liar and you know the conflicts and set-ups. There are no real surprises. Lewis Colick's script, based on a story he co-created, plays out exactly as you'd expect and how it should. It's actually an interesting idea for a plot, even if it's been done before, yet the execution in the story is just so standard. Everything is how you see it, basically. There's nothing wrong with that, I guess. I suppose he just had the need to tell a standard thriller.

Harold Becker, a decent director, helms "Domestic Disturbance." Like the script itself, he really doesn't bring anything new to the table. He has some nice shots and actually sets the film at a quick, breezy and well paced tone, but he doesn't do anything revolutionary. He's the right man for the job, as he brings the kind of tension we'd expect, the setups and how it all plays out. If you're making a standard thriller, it's really not a bad thing. I suppose that Colick and Becker knew what they were getting into, and I guess in that sense, the movie does work pretty well.

Maybe the film worked better for me with its performances. John Travolta is really strong as the loving father Frank, who remains involved with his family and is always there to support them, even if he has gone on with his own life. He's surprisingly mellow and optimistic, and as we see with his confrontations with Rick, his son means a lot to him. Danny, played by Matt O'Leary, is also strong and believable. Teri Polo is very good as Susan, brining a fine sense of warmth to the character, how she's trying to go on with her life and maintain a sense of perfection in her own ideals. Vince Vaughn, who I feel is somewhat underrated, is a strong and cunning villain as Rick, who enters the lives of this broken up family, and shakes things up with his wrong doing. He can be nice, but his real nature is that he's mean, and Vaughn perfectly shows his two sides. And in all two brief role is the Steve Buscemi. I'm a fan of his work, and he fits the character of Ray just right and does what he has to do.

I would be lying saying if I didn't hope for something more as in the sense of new ideas, but the point is that "Domestic Disturbance" doesn't bring anything new across. It doesn't make it a bad movie, though. It's just something that's fun and entertaining if you're looking for something that's somewhat a drama, but relies more on action and thrills. If so, then "Domestic Disturbance" is just your ticket. The film did okay at the box office, raking in about forty-five million bucks, but perhaps it got more publicity for off the set antics after filming one night when a fight broke at a local bar (I couldn't forget that news story!). Anyway, I found the movie to be pretty fun and entertaining, despite the one sided characters, buildup and plot. It's just a movie where you get to leave your brain at the door, watch and have a good time with. While the story is struggle between the truth and good versus evil, it's pretty solid for what it is. I've seen better dramas and thrillers, and so have you probably. But if you're looking something on the norm and want a good time, you could do worse than "Domestic Disturbance." It's a fun thriller, and just a nice guilty pleasure to sit down with one night and have a good time with.

 

"Domestic Disturbance" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it sure looks spiffy. Detail is wonderful, while colors are very well saturated. The colors are quite bold and have a drab, subdued yet good look to them. Fleshtones are accurate and look natural, while the dark hues help add more to some scenes. There are some pieces of dirt and blemishes on the print, but they're not too distracting. The transfer can also be a bit grainy as well, but it retains a good sharpness and solid look. Overall, this transfer gets the job done and is quite pleasing to the eyes, fitting with the tones of the film.

 

I found the English 5.1 Dolby Digital track to have a wonderful ambiance with great fidelity and strong dynamic range. The surround use here is quite powerful actually and actually brought me more into the movie. There's a lot of action packed noises to enjoy here, each with a fresh and crisp sense that sound quite natural. Be it the opening scenes with corks popping and a boat loading, cars driving, doors slamming, windows smashing and a lot of the more action packed, violent scenes. There really are some great surrounds that bring great life to the channels. The .1 LFE is well used and is really strong too. Mark Mancia's score builds tension nicely and is also well mixed, while dialogue is placed firmly in the center channel, while a whole host of other sounds don't overpower it. Everything comes together quite nicely, actually. Very well done and rather powerful. Also included are Dolby Surround tracks in French and English, plus English subtitles and English closed captions.

 

Not jammed full, but there's some decent stuff here to enjoy. The Audio Commentary with Director Harold Becker is pretty good, even if his voice is a bit monotonous and got on my nerves listening to this track. Becker offers a nice session here with little pauses, and good information on how he established shots, how he wanted scenes to play out and some fairly intriguing production stories. He knows what he's talking about and seems to have had a good time making this movie. He has praise for his cast and crew as well, and does bring a lot more insight on crafting this movie - a lot more insight than I expected. I really enjoyed this track and if you enjoyed the movie, it is worth hearing and has a great balance.

We have Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary with Director Harold Becker. There is an audio introduction from Becker you can listen to as well, which is quite nice about cutting the film. He puts them in a good light and talks about what he wanted to do with the movie, and why he needed to impose cuts. So, a very solid introduction there. And then we have the actual scenes, in decent non-anamorphic widescreen quality. I think some of these scenes actually do belong back in the film, and are good watches as far as character development goes and plotwise. Most of these are pretty short, but Becker backs the scenes up and like his audio commentary on the film itself, has a lot to say about these scenes and brings fine insight. Do check these out.

Rounding the disc out are two sets of Storyboards: one for the murder sequence and the other for the fire sequence, and then the non-anamorphic widescreen Theatrical Trailer in Dolby Digital 5.1.

 

"Domestic Disturbance" is a fun little movie that you'll either love or hate. How you view the movie is up to you. It's standard, but it can be enjoyable. The direction and script are there and work as they should, while the cast helps this movie out tremendously. The DVD has a strong transfer, great 5.1 mix and decent supplements. If you're in the mood, check the film out. If you like the movie and need to own it, it's money well spent.