Movie Review: Wild Things (1998)

Synopsis: Sam Lombardo is a popular high school guidance counselor living in an upscale neighborhood in Florida. A bachelor and a lady's man, he is living the good life. However, things soon change when one of his students, Kelly Van Ryan, accuses him of rape and another student, Suzie Toller, makes a similar claim against him. Fortunately for him, attorney Ken Bowden isn't afraid to defend him.

Who's in it? The movie stars Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards and Bill Murray.

Review: I needed a break after mowing the lawn and it was about to rain again anyway. So, my wife and I looked for a movie to watch and eventually settled on Wild Things. It was a film I had never seen, and she hadn't watched in a long time. It ended up being a good choice.

I think the thing I liked best about this movie was the way it strategically kept certain things off screen. For example, it was unclear what happened between Lombardo (Dillon) and Van Ryan (Richards) because we never see it. Instead, we just see her trying to seduce him then running from the house claiming she was raped. Between that and other events that happen off screen, the film does a great job of keeping you guessing about the truth.

The other thing I liked about this movie was the various twists and turns. This was the kind of film where nothing was as it seemed but as mentioned, it does a great job of keeping the real story a secret until the very end (including not revealing some of the information until the end credits). The various surprised reveals kept the movie entertaining throughout because you never knew what was going to happen next and who the real bad guy was. 

As far as acting goes, this movie demonstrates how having the right cast can make a huge difference. The various characters were believable and in Dillon's case, he played Lombardo perfectly. I wanted to believe he was innocent, but he had just enough arrogance to make the whole rape thing seem plausible. Bill Murray also added a surprisingly entertaining element to the film too as attorney Ken Bowden. On one hand, Bowden seemed an awful lot like other Murray characters, but he proved to be deceptively intelligent. 

Another thing I found I liked about this movie was, despite the description, the sexual parts are kept to a minimum. There's one steamy scene that isn't overly long and establishes a plot point. Other than that, and a make out session in a pool, the sex is largely inferred. The movie had too good of a plot to be bogged down with a ton of gratuitous nudity, which is something I'm sure will ruin any attempt to remake this film.

Final Opinion: This is an intriguing drama and mystery with a variety of twists that keep the real story a secret until the very end. It's worth taking the time to watch.

My Grade: A


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