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“Blending the superheated emotions of Douglas Sirk with the soft-porn high-jinks of Russ Meyer, the result is steamy, ludicrous and very entertaining.” — Richard Williams, The Guardian
“There’s something to be said for a movie that delivers the goods. Wild Things—the latest steamy Florida noir to hit our screens in the post-Body Heat era—has been pitched as an opportunity to watch fresh young starlets flaunt their nubile bodies around a couple of aging Tiger Beat hunks; and mister, if you go to the theater expecting to be titillated, you’ll get what you paid for. Wild Things features bikinis, bludgeonings, wet T-shirts, car chases, lesbian sex, harpoonings, threesomes, gunplay, a soundtrack of today’s hottest hits, and three displays of frontal nudity. (For the record, they’re Theresa Russell, Denise Richards, and, uh…Kevin Bacon.)
Is there more to Wild Things than the trash? Sure, but not much more: Frankly, it’s the trash that holds the film together. The plot is so convoluted that it practically nullifies itself. Matt Dillon stars as a high-school guidance counselor in the ritzy resort town of Blue Bay. His easy rapport with students takes a bad turn when he’s accused of rape by both an heiress’s daughter (Richards) and a delinquent swamp rat (Neve Campbell). Dillon’s shady lawyer (Bill Murray) wins an acquittal, but two suspicious cops (Kevin Bacon and Daphne Rubin-Vega) won’t let the case rest, especially after Dillon wins a healthy settlement against Richards and her slutty mom, Russell.
Thus begins a series of double-crosses that a lesser director would render incomprehensible. Luckily, Wild Things is helmed by John McNaughton, who’s famed for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (though he should be just as celebrated for Mad Dog and Glory and Normal Life). McNaughton’s strength is his willingness to let the camera linger on faces long after the dialogue and music have faded from the soundtrack, implying that there’s more to the story than mere words can convey. Among Richards’ pout, Campbell’s spiteful glares, and Murray’s sleepy, hangdog expressions, McNaughton has wonderful faces to work with. The best scene in the movie has Bacon and Dillon cheerfully sizing each other up on a sailboat, trying to determine which of them has the stones to kill the other….
This is a well-constructed piece of pulp, and McNaughton keeps us guessing, even through the closing credits, over exactly which two principals will end up in the clear and in the money. (Trust me, you’ll never guess.) In the meantime, the director dazzles the viewer with sex, scenery, and recurring shots of the Florida wildlife—which understands more about what’s going on than the thrill-seeking audience.”
– Noel Murray, Nashville Scene
- Year 1998
- Running Time 107 minutes
- Format 35mm
- Director John McNaughton
- Cast Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Theresa Russell, Bill Murray
IFC Center does not generally provide advisories about subject matter or potentially triggering content in films, as sensitivities vary from person to person. In addition to the synopses, trailers and other links on our website, further information about content and age-appropriateness for specific films can be found on Common Sense Media, IMDb and DoesTheDogDie.com as well as through general internet searches.