Volume 95, Issue 38

Thursday, November 8, 2001
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Salgado turns lens on world

Outside the Box

Domestic mess needs tidying up

Domestic mess needs tidying up

Domestic Disturbance
John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Matthew O'Leary, Steve Buscemi
Directed By: Harold Becker
Two 1/2 stars (out of five)

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Writer

Somewhere inside Domestic Disturbance is a good movie trying to get out.

However, what could be an interesting thriller turns into an increasingly silly and implausible film that may damage one's vision as a result of excessive eye-rolling.

John Travolta continues his recent string of mediocre roles by starring as Frank Morrison, a small-town Maryland boatmaker. His ex-wife, Susan (Teri Polo) is about to marry Rick (Vince Vaughn), a wealthy stockbroker who managed to win the Citizen of the Year award after only two years of living in town.

Rick, however, is an ex-con and when one of his sleazy former partners (Steve Buscemi) shows up at the wedding looking for his share of the loot from a past crime, Rick decides to permanently silence him.

The catch is that, unbeknownst to Rick, Frank and Susan's 12-year-old Danny (Matthew O'Leary) witnesses the murder. Because of Danny's delinquent history, nobody believes his story except his biological father Frank.

The main problem with Domestic Disturbance is the audience knows too much. Rick is revealed as the villain too early so Frank's search to discover the truth feels like an uninspired episode of Columbo.

Domestic Disturbance is another movie that makes police look like idiots. While the local police have difficulty finding evidence for the case, for Frank it's simple.

Director Harold Becker would have been wiser to hide the crime, allowing the audience to fully participate in deciding whether or not Danny is telling the truth.

Instead of being subtle, the plot quickly and clearly establishes a "good guy versus bad guy" motif and coasts from there. The only real "suspense" is saved for the final 15 minutes and the sequence becomes so absurd, you half expect Neve Campbell to show up being chased by a guy wearing a Scream mask.

None of the actors are given much to work with. Travolta plays such a caring father the audience wonders how anyone ever divorceded him in the first place.

Meanwhile, Vince Vaughn plays a weak character, similar in stature to characters he's played in past movies, which unfortunately leads to the dreaded typecast.

This is another sign of the film's lack of suspense – while Vaughn is good at playing deceptively calm sociopaths, his presence automatically tells the audience his character is up to no good.

The movie's best performance is delivered by the young O'Leary, who displays Danny's fears convincingly. As for Steve Buscemi, whose mere presence can improve a movie, it's too bad he wasn't given enough screen time to make an impact.

Having Vaughn play the father and nice-guy Travolta play the villain would have been an interesting twist, but like every other facet of Domestic Disturbance, the casting shows no creative inspiration whatsoever.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001