Domestic Disturbance

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Movie Review by Susannah Macklin

Starring: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Matthew O’Leary, Steve Buscemi
Director: Harold Becker

Frank Morrison (John Travolta) has a good relationship with his ex-wife (Teri Polo). The only real problem is their 12 year-old son Danny (Matt O’Leary), who in trying to get them back together makes desperate plays for attention and tells innumerable lies. So when his mother re-weds to local all round good guy Rick Baker (Vince Vaughn) naturally Danny is not happy. He doesn’t like him and can’t help but think there’s an edge to Rick that doesn’t quite fit with his peachy image. By way of an accident Danny witnesses a sinister side to his step-dad that goes beyond anything he could have imagined – he knows he must tell his real parents before its too late. But will those who matter, believe him?

Not necessarily an obvious choice for Travolta, DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE would probably be a fairly middle of the road vehicle for the star if it weren’t for Vince Vaughn and Steve Buscemi. Vaughn stands out tenfold as the sinister step-dad Baker, positively oozing that essential ingredient for a truly successful bad guy – charisma. And in his virtually cameo role, Buscemi is fantastic as weaselly scumbag, Ray Coleman.

Screenwriter Lewis Colick’s simple but effective premise of ‘don’t cry wolf’ works pretty well, and in the tradition of all great films in which we know more about the characters glaringly obvious flaws than those around them, we generally feel the frustration and fear. The only qualm is the ease of the plot in which everything just falls into place. Franks readiness to trust the accusations of his pre-teen son is a bit premature for the father of a problem child. However there’s plenty of suspense and excitement to ease you through, so if you can suspend disbelief for long enough to get round it – it’s worth it.

This will probably prove to be something of a Friday night hit when it’s released in the new year, and will no doubt creep steadily up the box office chart due to word of mouth. It’s certainly worth seeing, if not for the Buscemi/Vaughn performances, than for the humbled deliveries of a post BATTLEFIELD EARTH Travolta!

4 out of 6 stars