Wild Things (Unrated Edition) review by Mike Long

You hear the term "guilty pleasure" thrown around a lot when it comes to movies. Personally, I don't believe in the idea. If you like something, no matter how crappy it is, that's your business. There's no need to feel any guilt for it. Having said that, it's with a straight face that I announce my admiration for Wild Things. Sure, it's a sleazy crime caper, but it's a very stylish and well-made one. See...no guilt.

Wild Things takes place in the upscale community of Blue Bay, Florida. (Although we're never told exactly where this is, save that it's near the Everglades.) There, Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) enjoys a pleasant life as the counselor of the local high school. He also fancies dating the high-society women of Blue Bay. Sam's life is torn apart when one of his students, rich-girl Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) accuses him of rape. Detective Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) is assigned to the case, and soon another girl, swamp-rat Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) comes forward, saying that Lombardo had assaulted her as well. Are these allegations true, or is someone out to ruin Sam's life? And if that's the case, who are the players, and who can Sam trust?

There are many words which can be used to describe Wild Things, most of which are variations of "lewd". But for me, the best way to describe the movie is "fun". The film gained a reputation for it's threesome sex scene, and the infamous shot of Kevin Bacon's kibbles n' bits, but the film should really be remembered for the story. Here is a thriller which seems to be over at the 55-minute mark, but then the real story begins. The second-half of the film is chock full of unexpected twists and turns, and by the final reel, we've learned that no one in the movie can be trusted. And just when we thought it was over, Wild Things offers the novelty of inserting additional scenes into the end credits which fill in the gaps in the story. Director John McNaughton (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) and writer Stephen Peters have crafted a superior film noir which rises above its trashy reputation...

...Or at least for me it does. For most viewers, Wild Things is simply a steamy thriller which contains some hot sex scenes. Therein lies the other reason why the movie is so much fun. If you remove the clever plot-twists in the movie, all that you're left with is that standard Cinemax late-night clone. Thus, it's great to have recognizable, dare I say respected actors such as Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, and Neve Campbell romping through this sleaze-fest. (Notice I didn't mention Denise Richards, as she'd look right at home on Cinemax.) And while it's great to see these stars "slumming it", it's Bill Murray who steals the show as Lombardo's slimy lawyer. No matter why you like Wild Things, be it the cast, the plot, or the sex, the film is good mature fun that will leave first-time viewers breathless.

Wild Things claws its way onto DVD in a new, unrated edition (more on that in a moment) courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The transfer looks good, as it offers a very clear image which is mostly free from grain or defects from the source image (although I'm fairly certain that I saw a hair on the Columbia logo). The colors are good, as the film is full of the trademark pastel shades of Florida. Also, the brightness level is fine, as the night-time scenes are never overly dark. There are some artifacting defects, and haloes are visible in certain shots, but otherwise the transfer looks fine. The disc has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and music (although, the main theme from Wild Things bugs me, as it sounds like the opening of "Big Easy" by Stone Temple Pilots). The surround sound effects are discrete, but effective, and the occasional subwoofer touch adds to the film.

This new DVD contains an unrated edition of Wild Things, which runs some 7 minutes longer than the theatrical release, which was included on the prior DVD incarnation from 2001. The first question raised when someone mentions an unrated Wild Things is "Is there more nudity?" And the answer is, yes. There are some additional shots of Denise Richard's breasts, so if that's your thing, have at it. Otherwise, there are only a few scenes which contain additional dialogue, none of which really adds to the movie. The only extra on this new DVD is the trailer for Wild Things, whereas the previous R-rated disc contained deleted scenes and an audio commentary from director John McNaughton, as well as having a competent transfer. So, I highly recommend this film, but the choice of DVD is yours -- you can go for some extra features, or some extra breasts.

8 out of 10 Jackasses

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