Plot: What’s it about?
Yes, John Travolta is back. Known around Hollywood as the “Comeback Kid”, he has had his share of ups and downs in terms of career. However, it seems that the movie Pulp Fiction cured all of that. Since it’s release in 1994, Travolta has been on a comeback and has managed to stay around this time. Not all of his choices have been poor, either. Take movies like Get Shorty, Broken Arrow and The General’s Daughter; all of which were successful at the box office. But he does tend to get involved in some movies that maybe he’s out of place in. This leads us to Domestic Disturbance. Directed by Harold Becker (who also directed Malice, Sea of Love and Mercury Rising), it wasn’t a bad movie, but I felt that Travlota might have been a bit miscast in the film (or maybe those around him). Still, he is at the age where he can play a convincing father, but maybe the problem was his ex-wife played by Teri Polo who seemed too young to have a 12 year old son. In any case, here’s the rundown on what it’s all about…
Frank (John Travolta) has been divorced from his wife, Susan (Teri Polo) and she has custody of their son. Living in Southport, Maryland Frank eeks out a living by building wooden boats that no one seems to want any more. They’re nice, sure, but there’s not a demand for them. We learn later that Frank had a drinking problem of sorts and that was the cause for the custody battle. The movie tends not to dwell on that so much, but to provide the momentum to propel us forward and get the heart of the matter. Ok, fair enough! This is when Rick (Vince Vaughn) enters the picture. Rick is set to marry Susan and as a sign of rebellion, Danny (Matt O’Leary) has taken to getting in a bit of trouble with the law. In a small town, it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s a problem nonetheless. And until this point, all the problems seem minor as compared to what is around the corner. This is where Ray Coleman (Steve Buschemi) shows up. We know right away that something isn’t right and Frank starts to investigate Rick further when Ray later turns up dead (actually, he doesn’t turn up at all, but according to Danny, Rick killed him). So the die is cast and now we let the movie take us on a ride.
I don’t want to cast this movie out, it was very well-made and very entertaining. My problem with it is that it was so predictable, almost like a copy of Double Jeopardy but with the details a bit different. One man fights against the grain to prove that his son is telling the truth and that his ex-wife is going to marry a man with a past. I think it’s been done before! As I mentioned earlier about the casting, I just had a hard time believing it. I’m so used to Vince Vaughn in more comedic roles like Made and Swingers , that it took a lot of belief on my part to see him play a role like this. And while I’m not opposed to watching long movies, this one was eerily short, clocking in at just under 90 minutes. About the standard time for a comedy, but I would have liked to see the movie take its time as opposed to diving right in with the plot. Still, for the money, it’s not a bad movie. Paramount has added some nice supplements, but the price may be a bit high for the casual viewer.
Video: How does it look?
Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, Domestic Disturbance looks great in some scenes and downright awful in others. Some early scenes that take place outdoors and while sailing look practically marvelous, but some other indoor scenes suffer from artifacting and made me want to rub my eyes. The black levels are intact and there is no edge enhancement to note, but just those key scenes that left an impression on me. For the most part, the transfer is good, the level of detail is amazing but I’m still trying to figure out what happened with those scenes that looked bad. While it’s not that big of a deal, we get sent the disc to review the video quality as well, so I just call ’em like I see ’em!
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio, presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, is a lot better than that of the video. While the surrounds are used very sparingly in most of the scenes, the scene with the thunderstorm and the scene with the fire sound amazing! I turned my head several times to see if the thunder and lightning were of that outside (it was raining while I was watching the movie) or from the movie, and to my surprise it was from the movie. That’s always a good sign. Dialogue is fine, free of distortion and for the most part the action is limited to the front speakers, but when the surrounds and LFE kick in, watch out.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Featuring a few extras, fans of the film might be a bit let down. The most notable feature is the commentary by Harold Becker. Becker, with his raspy New York accent, does give a lot of information about the movie including casting and selecting the location for Southport (which was actually Wilmington, North Carolina). He’s full of information, but as short as the movie is, there are some rather long pauses between his words. Still, the track isn’t bad so if you’re so inclined…give it a listen. Next are some storyboards for two sequences in the movie. The fire sequence and when Danny sneaks out of the house and hides in the car. It’s pretty straight-forward as the storyboards do look like what happened in the movie. Next up are a series of six deleted scenes with an audio introduction by Becker and optional commentary for them. Again, I stress that this wasn’t that long of a movie, so why not put these scenes back in. But as Becker explains, he wanted the pace of the film to be fast and he felt that these scenes slowed it down. Lastly, a theatrical trailer shown in a non-anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio is shown (oddly enough with some of the deleted scenes in them and even a few more that weren’t included on the disc) in Dolby Digital 5.1. While this movie didn’t light up the box office, perhaps it will find new life on DVD. Certainly not the high point of Vince Vaughn’s or John Travolta’s career, this film certainly does have an audience, but I found it a bit too predictable for my taste. Others might disagree…