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the recent onslaught of film noir that has popped up in multiplexes , with everything ranging from " l . a . confidential " to " palmetto " to " the big lebowski , " has proved to be an artistic commodity for veteran , talented directors .
with this particular genre , directors are able to collate the sleazy underworld of the lower-class and the glamorous , opulent upper-class , while maintaining the noirish , ambiguous ambience , the staple of film noir .
" wild things " could be classified as a black comedy , a sultry film noir or a plain ol' erotic thriller , but the one category it doesn't qualify for is that of a quality motion picture .
overacted , overwrought and overlong , " wild things " is a confused mess , a movie that wants to have its cake and eat it too .
with its incalculable twists , turns , more twists and more turns , it soon becomes a tedious exercise in pointlessness .
in spite of game efforts by kevin bacon and matt dillon , who manage to sustain straight faces throughout the ordeal , " wild things " not once jells in its eroticism , unpredictability , character motivation , sense of the world , plot , etc . there's not one redeeming quality in the picture that is not technical .
directed by john mcnaughton ( " henry : portrait of a serial killer " ) , " wild things " follows sam lombardo ( matt dillon ) , a hunkish , suburban florida high school teacher who's the dream of every spruced up female in the community .
particularly one .
kelly van ryan ( denise richards ) adores him to such extent that she offers to wash his jeep with a partner .
soon , her tiny shorts are soaked and tells the other girl to take a hike , enabling her to come into his house .
next thing , she cries rape .
and the so-called " roller-coaster ride " ensues .
a second accuser comes front , suzie toller ( neve campbell ) , a booze-drinkin' , tattooed piece of trailer trash that charges lombardo of sexually molesting her , virtually guaranteeing a trial where preposterous confessions , asinine occurrences and laughable courtroom procedures are bound to happen .
even bill murray gets into the act as lombardo's zany lawyer .
he wears a fake neck- brace , waves the finger at the other client and infuses the script with some billy murray .
you can tell mcnaughton knew he had nothing to lose assigning murray to this role .
as ridiculous as it sounds , he's the most sane character in the movie .
the community is astonished .
reporters flee to the scene .
there's an 8 . 5-million settlement for a libel suit against kelly's mother ( theresa russell ) .
there's the ambiguous cop ( kevin bacon , who also executive produced ) who sniffs something iffy in this concoction of deceit , murder and lust .
we , the audience , sniff something not so lustful .
like so many thrillers these days , including " the usual suspects " and " the game , " " wild things " eschews character for plot .
mcnaughton knows how to handle the camera , and he keeps the campy fillings of the script flowing with workmanlike ease , as if he knows the territory he's covering is a harmless appetizer to accompany " henry , " a furious , unsettling film directorial tour- de-force .
george clinton's score is a delight to behold .
but it's the humans .
the characters are mere devices for the " nasty " twists .
what writer stephen peters does not grasp is this becomes tediously uninvolving , almost unbearable , if those who inhibit this twisted world are not interesting , don't feel real or we don't care for them .
not even the unintentionally funny moments work .
the people in " wild things " are not so much people as they are caricatures .
then there's the erotic content , which nearly earned the film an nc-17 , for a sexless , badly edited , poorly lit menage-a-trois .
and in what has to be one of the most flabbergastingly inept scenes that has graced this country , kevin bacon's member makes a cameo appearance with ten minutes to go .
ironically , the wildest elements of " wild things " are not wild at all .