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Very Bad Things (1998)

tomatometer

25

Average Rating: 4.9/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 9

Mean-spirited and empty.

audience

58

liked it
Average Rating: 3/5
User Ratings: 34,931

My Rating

Movie Info

Peter Berg made his directorial debut with this black comedy about suburbanite Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau), his future bride Laura (Cameron Diaz) and his four pals -- brothers Adam (Daniel Stern) and Michael (Jeremy Piven), mechanic Charles (Leland Orser), and real estate agent Robert (Christian Slater). Kyle and gang head off to a stag-party fling in Vegas. The fun features hired stripper Tina (Carla Scott), killed accidentally during a bathroom make-out session with Michael. When a hotel

R,

Comedy

Peter Berg

Apr 27, 1999

PolyGram

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All Critics (68) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (29) | DVD (10)

Berg is so in love with his escalating shock tactics that they quickly cease to shock.

May 11, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...hollow, simple-minded and about as profound an experience as stepping in a pile of road kill.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The gross-out humor lacks edge, the guilt never kicks in, and the outrages are predictable. It's one flat brewski.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's extremely lousy material, but these guys make the most of it.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: CNN.com
CNN.com
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Peter Berg's Very Bad Things isn't a bad movie, just a reprehensible one.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Disappointing film, directed by a good actor, Peter Berg, who thinks his tale is clever and witty

August 14, 2011 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Very Bad Things is a horrible hoot. It is one of those movies that put you through the wringer. It doesn't tickle the funny bone -- it pulverizes it. You don't know whether to laugh, gasp, or walk out.

June 22, 2009 Full Review Source: tonymacklin.net
tonymacklin.net

Very Bad Things is a deliciously nasty morality tale that simply warns viewers that what goes around comes around.

June 29, 2008 Full Review Source: KPBS.org
KPBS.org

...one of the more effective black comedies to come around in quite some time.

October 13, 2007 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

A Swiftian satire on white yuppies -- it's American Psycho with five psychos.

July 24, 2007 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

A vicious, disturbing black comedy that delivers a wickedly entertaining ride if you don't take it too seriously.

March 4, 2006
FulvueDrive-in.com

His [Berg] one serious mistake is to confuse gore with terror.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

...the film wages a war against one's moral senses in a story that's unforgettable.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

The trouble is that Berg doesn't seem sure how to draw matters to a close.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

There are some hysterically funny bits, but the excessive violence sometimes kills the laughter.

January 9, 2002 Full Review Source: Movieline
Movieline

a blood-soaked parody of the American dream

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

There is a line between gallows humor and tastelessness, but Very Bad Things apparently doesn't have a clue where that might be.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

...unpleasant and extremely unfunny...

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

It's the eternal question.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Its utter pointless sadism makes the movie unwatchable.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Needcoffee.com
Needcoffee.com

Audience Reviews for Very Bad Things

Unjustifiably mean spirited and at times headache inducing, Peter Berg's Very Bad Things (1998) is a muddled and ill-conceived attempt at creating a cult black comedy without any funny ideas. We open with Kyle Fisher (John Favreau) a 30 something year old man waiting to be married to his fiancée Laura (Cameron Diaz). He sits alongside Charles Moore (the near silent Leland Orser) and together the pair reminisce the insane recent events that lead them to where they are now.

We are then pulled back a few days and Kyle is set to leave on his bachelor party with friends Robert Boyd (Slater), brothers Adam and Michael Berkow (Daniel Stern and Jeremy Piven) and Leeland. From here on out things get undeniable messy; a swooping shot of a Casino table begins a montage of shouting, drinking, drug taking and bromantic babble, all shot with a constantly moving camera and distorted visual overlays jumping from one moment to the next. It's a merciless affair that thankfully ends relatively quickly with the arrival and consequent murder of a prostitute, setting of a dark chain of cover-up murders and madness.

It's obvious from both the film's posters and on-screen who are the real stars are here. Slater's performance as the psychotically persuasive Boyd feels as if it could be the later iteration of his character from 1989's cult classic 'Heathers', and Cameron Diaz conveys her character's longing for marriage and subsequent madness in a convincingly annoying fashion. Other character's and performances here are less refined, as Berg to often relies on racial identity and for comedy; his constant stereotyping of Jews in particular grows tiresome quickly.

VBT also falls apart when it comes to comedy senarios, with Berg constantly trying to present unfunny situations in a funny manner. Take, for example, the scene in which Boyd goes to set up a murder/suicide, it's undoubtedly the most dramatic point in the plot but for some reason Berg decides to turn it into a penis biting joke. Moments like this occur far to often and what feels like could have been an interesting deconstruction of the American Dream is lost among the chaos.

Alongside it's bigger problems VBT suffers also from an overused and over-loud soundtrack, the always annoying shaky cam and a tone that darts between the serious and silly in an obnoxious fashion. If you asked Berg what exactly he was attempting in this film I'm sure he'd say it was a comment on voyeurism and the way people have become desensitized to violence so much that they can laugh at it, and I'm sure that may be the case, but only if it's funny.
August 27, 2013
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer

"Very Bad Things is a crazy movie. I thought it was going to be a little like the movie Hangover, but I was really wrong. This film is a twisted in a good way. It goes to places I didn't see the movie going. There is chaos throughout. It's not a film meant to be taken seriously. It gross, funny, and disturbing. I enjoyed it. The cast was good and the ending was pretty funny. I'm not sure if I would see again though."
February 5, 2013
LWOODS04
♥˩ƳИИ ƜѲѲƉƧ♥

Super Reviewer

I loved this dark comedy. It's full of very bad stuff, but it's all so horribly funny at the same time. Plus, the cast is great. If you have a sick sense of humour, see this movie.
November 2, 2011
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

Boyd: The room is covered in blow; Moore looks like he went at it with a fuckin' mountain lion. 

"They've been bad. Very bad."

I really liked Very Bad Things for what it was. It's an over-the-top, ridiculous and savage dark, dark comedy. I can totally understand why a lot of people are easily turned off by this movie and don't find it funny at all. The movie is violent and probably would offend most people. I guess that's why I like it. It's not like any of this is actually happening. We all are taking this a little too seriously. I'm going to be the complete opposite of a Roger Ebert type. Ebert feels like movies have to have morals. He said of Very Bad Things that it isn't bad, just "reprehensible." That's why he and many others don't like it, but it is also why I do.

 The laughs come from how completely serious the subject matter is. In no other movie would we be laughing at this. But I found myself laughing and I still don't know why. I'm guessing it's because of the over-the-top performances. The actors and director aren't taking this seriously, so why should I. It's pure entertainment and has nothing to say about morals. It throws them completely out the window and basically in my eyes says, "Fuck You" to anyone that doesn't like it. 

At the end of the day, this is a movie. If we need to look to movies to show us the right way to live and to give us good fundamental moral characters to look up to; what is that saying about us. Now, I'm not saying that I don't like movies that show the correct way to live and the consequences of living wrongly, but I do like this movie for not being that way. It's something fresh. There are no heroes, just anti-heroes. Really there is no true comedy and that's why it's funny(I know that doesn't really make sense, but it's true). It's a well-made film and it's really entertaining. Slater, Favreau, Diaz, Piven, Stern and Orser all give ridiculous, but good performances. You may hate it, but I like it.
August 7, 2011
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

    1. Lois Berkow: You picked the wrong woman, mother fucker!
    – Submitted by Sylvester K (16 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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