Domestic Disturbance (2001)

John Travolta as Frank Morrison in Domestic Disturbance

Distubringly Domestic

"Domestic Disturbance" is as a mediocre movie as they come, as a thriller it's not thrilling, as a drama it's not dramatic and the storyline well that has the feeling of being pieced together from various other movies. Even the music which plays over the opening credits feels far too familiar, sort of "Basic Instinct" like except "Domestic Disturbance" is nothing like "Basic Instinct". But what is most strange about "Domestic Disturbance" is that there is not much too it, no padding, no attempts to stretch things out, no amazing contrived twists to turn the storyline around it is all very straight forwards and at just 89 minutes is not long either.

Young Danny Morrison (Matt O'Leary - Die Hard 4.0) is less than happy that his mother is about to get re-married to successful businessman Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn - Zoolander) and hopes that she will get back with his father Frank (John Travolta - Swordfish). But when Danny learns that his mother is also expecting he tries to run away by hiding in Ricks car, except he witnesses his stepfather commit murder and no one believes him when he tells. That is until Frank realises that his son has never lied to him and decides to try and discover the truth about who Rick Barnes is in fear that he will hurt his son.

Vince Vaughn as Rick Barnes in Domestic Disturbance

The storyline itself is not a bad idea with a slightly troublesome son wanting his divorced parents to get back together whilst dealing with a stepfather who turns out to have a secret past. Except that "Domestic Disturbance" never really works it properly almost rushing through things in a sort of lets just get this done manner. It fails to serve up any intrigue, mystery or extra side stories to get you on the edge of your seat. Instead it serves everything up on a plate so before you even get a quarter of a way into the movie the entire set up has been done, we know who the bad guys are, how they operate, who will get hurt, possibly die and what the outcome is likely to be. It literally is lacking in anything in the slightest bit thrilling.

What is quite funny is that as the movie starts the opening credits begin to roll over a series of shots of a vehicle travelling through a typical urban setting the music playing almost reminiscent of "Basic Instinct" there are half expectations of something more coming, something possibly quite emotive considering the title. But nope there is literally nothing and I am not sure there ever was anything more which got left on the editing room floor. It just feels like someone had the bare bones for a thriller but then it was rushed through to production before it ever got padded out with further rewrites. Even the supposed issue over a father believing his son ends up being seriously under played and lacking the drama which that element deserved.

But the issues are more than just an over simple storyline and the choice of John Travolta to lead the movie as Frank was to be honest a mistake. The trouble is that Travolta never manages to serve up the emotion of the piece, when he is angry his face looks pretty much the same as when he is supposedly happy as he tries to create a strong brooding style character but fails. Which is a shame as Travolta has done emotion and drama pretty well in various other movies, just here he doesn't do it rather than just going through the motions. Teri Polo as his ex wife Susan adds little to make it any better either, playing a stereotype mother caught between a new husband and an ex husband.

Although "Domestic Disturbance" does have some good performances and Vince Vaughn in one of his rare dalliances with serious drama is not bad as the threatening step dad Rick. He at least delivers a believable character of someone who is both threatened by his secretive past but also a threat to those he can bully. Although saying that Vaughn doesn't manage to stop his character being 2 dimensional despite giving it a feeling of menace. Plus Matt O'Leary in just his first movie actually delivers the best performance as the young son Danny. He is believable as a child who doesn't like his step father, loves his real father and is scared when Rick basically starts to bully him.

What this all boils down to is that "Domestic Disturbance" is a disappointing movie. It lacks anything to make it either exciting or thrilling and almost feels like it's a movie intentionally made to be stripped bare of any excess, such as secondary storylines. There is little to enthuse about except for the good performance of Vince Vaughn and Matt O'Leary who both give performances which whilst not amazing are better than the actual movie.