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Domestic Disturbance

Director:Harold Becker
Writer:Lewis Colick
Paramount; PG-13; 100 minutes
Release:11/01
Cast:John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo

The boy who cried wolf scenario—when the one person who learns what's really going on gets discredited by his own unreliability—makes a strong backbone for suspense. Shame, then, that Domestic Disturbance builds this set-up then trashes it. What remains? Good guy versus bad guy battles we've all seen before.

Danny (Matt O'Leary) is a kid who likes to lie. His divorced mom (Teri Polo) marries an up-and-comer named Rick (Vince Vaughn). Everybody thinks he's Mr. Perfect except stepson Danny. Because of Danny's imagination, not even biological father Frank (John Travolta) believes him when Danny claims he saw Rick murder a man in cold blood. It is crucial to suspense that the audience knows as much as, or less than, most of the characters. Domestic Disturbance ignores this rule. The characters' confusion and tensions become moot points. The audience knows who's good and who's bad, and what will happen to each.