Wild Things (1998) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Tuna's comments in white
I suppose director John McNaughton did
warn me early in the film that this was going to be garbage. A sailing
teacher and his best student drag a boat onto the dock with all sheets
still flying (funny how there is wind on the water but not on the
dock) and the teacher tells the student to lower the mainsail. The
student immediately lowers the jib. I didn't take the hint, and
watched it anyway. Guidance counselor Matt Dillon is accused by two
students, Denise Richards and Neve Campbell, of rape.
There were some plusses. The locations and art direction were lush,
and the cinematography was excellent. Richards, and Theresa Russell as
her mother, both showed breasts, but Campbell, who was supposed to be
sort of a bi Goth trailer trash chick, wore more clothes than Mother Superior
at Sunday Mass.
I rated it a grudging C-, mostly on the strength of the art direction, and the DP work.
Scoopy's comments in
(LOTS of SPOILERS)
Tuna and I disagree so rarely that you guys probably get bored with us echoing each other. Normally, even when we disagree, we are not so very far apart. On Quills, for example, our disagreement was between "great movie, should have been nominated for an Oscar" (Tuna) and "really good movie with a great cast and one of my favorite directors, but with some weaknesses that kept me from considering it a masterpiece, even though I thought Rush was fantastic" (Scoopy) Not that much of a difference.
I can only think of two movies where we disagree strongly. Interestingly, it is precisely the same disagreement in both cases, but in reverse. In both cases, it is an exploitation film where one of us thinks it is so pleasurable that it goes way beyond its genre to become a legitimate mainstream film, while the other couldn't find much to like at all. The two pictures are Turkish Delight and Wild Things.
Tuna loves Turkish Delight in all of its many facets, and I found the satire sophomoric, the characters unbelievable, and just hated the jumping around in flower beds, praising only the daring of the sex scenes. I love the sex scenes in that film, and thus rate it high on the exploitation scale, but I wouldn't last five minutes watching Turkish Delight if it had no explicit nudity.
I love Wild Things.
I would rather watch it than any other exploitation film, and I would watch it again and again even with the nude scenes cut out completely! Taking it out of the exploitation genre and comparing it to other entertainment pictures, I would rather watch it than other examples of pulp cinema vulgarity like Basic Instinct. In addition to Denise's raw sexuality, I love the sleazy music, the twisted plot, the photography, and Bill Murray. In fact, to commit some heresy, if I had to choose between them, I'd watch this instead of The Big Sleep. In fact, I'm going to watch it again when I finish writing this. Obviously, if you cut the nudity out of Wild Things, Tuna wouldn't watch it at all. That's the same way I feel about Turkish Delight.
I don't know if I can explain why these differences occur even to guys with such similar tastes. They just do. People are different. C'est la vie.
If you really paid attention to the plot of Wild Things (as I now have, since I have watched the freakin' thing ten times), you will notice that there are quite a few sloppy errors in this film. (1) There is a day-night continuity error when the two cops visit Susie (Neve Campbell) in her trailer. They walk into the trailer in daylight, she asks if they can talk outside instead, so they step out - into darkness! (2) If the writer was trying to hide the fact that the swamp trash girl (Neve again) had a genius IQ, why did he show her reading Celine? One of the cops even noticed, but never said another thing about it. Wouldn't this seem to be an extraordinary betrayal of her presumed character? It's as if Spicoli were carrying around "The Portable James Joyce", despite having other toilet paper available. Perhaps that was supposed to be the one clue to the alert audience member that Susie was the real mastermind (ala the dog in Body Double), or perhaps it was just an idea the writer meant to develop in some way, but couldn't. Either way, it seemed like something the cops should have found more significant. (3) Tuna pointed out the nautical terminology problems. I don't know a halyard from a poop deck, so I'll have to take his word on that one. (4) It really doesn't add up that the Bill Murray character was in on the scam with Susie. The teacher (Matt Dillon) chose that lawyer without consulting Susie. I guess you could assume that was worked out off-camera, except that if Murray was an integral part of the scheme, he would have been trying to impress his potential client, instead of acting like an eccentric schmuck. The way the story is revealed, Dillon could easily have had the first meeting with the lawyer, and said, "I'm going to look for another lawyer, dude, you're too weird", in which case the whole plot would have unraveled. Without the co-operation of the lawyer, Susie has no way to end up with the money.
There were also two
mistakes in the boat/kill scene, in which the teacher sends Denise back
to the car to get a blanket, so he can "kill" Neve. This scene was, in
fact, the key flaw of the film.
Oh, hell, there are probably 50 more like that, because the plot was so complicated, with various combinations of characters in cahoots in some ways, but hiding details from one another. I suppose you can find a bunch of things that "x" could not have known at the time. These elements are not integral to one's enjoyment of the film. It flows fine in the moment, and I still enjoy re-watching it, even though I have seen it so many times and know all the plot twists.
Additional notes from Scoop on the unrated version:
So I get the DVD with the unrated copy of Wild Things. I watch it for an hour, and I'm pissed off, because the only reason it seems to be unrated is that they took the deleted scenes from the earlier DVD and put them back in. Since the MPAA has never rated that cut, they could legally call it "unrated".
I was steaming mad.
Then I watched another minute or two and felt a helluva lot better.
There is some additional unseen footage, and it is a real treasure. Remember the two girls kissing in the pool? Well they are topless, and Denise Richards's boobs are on camera in the unrated version!! Ol' "Never" Campbell never did show anything, but Denise more than made up for it.
Then there were a few extra plot twists which hadn't appeared before. Some minor stuff about how the Neve Campbell character was actually the aunt of the Denise Richards character, and half sister of the Theresa Russell character, and she therefore felt herself entitled to the money of the man who was her father and had abandoned her. (Neve's father was Denise's grandfather, if you're scoring at home). Nothing much interesting.
Then came the final credits. If you have seen the movie, you know that this is where the director and writer turn over all the hole cards and show you all the missing elements of the plot. It was a very cool little idea to begin with, and it is much cooler in the unrated version, because we get to see Matt Dillon and Denise Richards having some steamy sex to fake the "rape" that would become the focal point of the plot. It had to seem to a medical examiner that she might actually have been raped, or the D.A. would not have taken the case to trial, but Matt couldn't climax because that certainly in the physical evidence would have resulted in a conviction, so Dillon simply gave her a good pounding. This scene also resulted in a bit more nudity from Denise. Awesome!
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