The previous sentence makes about as much suspense as the reason behind making “Domestic Disturbance”, the newest ‘thriller’ starring John Travolta, Vince Vaughn and Teri Polo.
Let’s talk for a few minutes about Mr. Travolta. Can anyone name an actor who has received more chances in his career and squandered them? I think that Travolta has now surpassed Richard Dreyfuss as the comeback/ lose it again king. After a brilliant comeback engineered by his longtime admirer Quentin Tarantino in “Pulp Fiction”, Travolta appeared in a number of films that were interesting and proved interesting choices. “Face/Off” and “Broken Arrow” highlighted a string of hits that ultimately allowed Travolta to join the $20 million club. In the last few years, every film Travolta has appeared in has failed miserably. “Lucky Numbers”? “The General’s Daughter”? That film was a hit but can anyone even remember one significant scene from it? “Swordfish”? Interesting, but a flop. “Battlefield Earth”? Why does he keep making this trash? It has to be the paychecks. I can’t see any other conceivable reason. John, baby, how long before the studios realize that these films aren’t making any money and they stop hiring you? John, baby, how long before you need another comeback vehicle?
Frank Morrison (John Travolta) is a divorced father who makes wooden boats. He doesn’t get a lot of business, but the business that he does get gets a great deal. He doesn’t charge his customers enough to make a profit. Frank does this because HE IS THE GOOD GUY. His son, Danny (Matthew O’Leary) has a lot of problems accepting his mom’s (Teri Polo) new relationship with Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn). He gets into a lot of trouble and lies to everyone. A couple of days after his mom and Rick get married, he stows away in Rick’s car and witnesses him murdering a business associate. The police don’t believe him however. After a little soul searching, Frank believes his son. He may lie to everyone, but he doesn’t lie to Frank.
Directed by Harold Becker (“Sea of Love”), “Domestic Disturbance” is a suspense film without any suspense. From the moment Danny stows away in Rick’s car and WATCHES HIM MURDER Ray (Steve Buscemi), which we also watch, we know who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. To make matters worse, Frank instantly believes his son, which means that the film boils down to a cat and mouse game between Frank and Rick. A boring cat and mouse game. When you know the identity of the villain, a huge percentage of the suspense is flushed down the toilet. When Frank believes Danny early on, the rest of the suspense is flushed down with it.
The film would’ve been greatly improved by showing Danny in the backseat of the car, watching everything, the pain and suspense registering on his face, while the audience sees nothing. Then, when Danny tries to convince his dad, the police chief, his mom, that Rick is a murderer, at least we haven’t seen the act, and we would require some convincing as well.
Because the filmmakers chose to show us everything, the next logical step to provide some suspense would be to have Frank doubt Danny, his son. However, after a very brief segment, Frank believes Danny, causing us to watch a battle between Frank and Rick, which isn’t very interesting.
Each of the actors, including Travolta, are serviceable in their roles, but because the film robs us of just about everything in the first fifteen minutes, the remaining ninety become an exercise in tedium.
Skip “Domestic Disturbance”. It isn’t even worthy of a video rental. Go to see the far superior and very different “Amelie” or “The Man Who Wasn’t There”. Your money will be much better spent.