Domestic Disturbance


Directed by: Harold Becker
Written by:Lewis Colick
Starring: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Steve Buscemi, James Lashly
Released: February 7, 2002
Grade: C

The problem with Domestic Disturbance is that the actual odds of it actually happening are similar to those of me winning the lotto for three consecutive weeks.  12-year-old Danny Morrison (O’Leary) has been rebelling since the marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce of his parents Frank (Travolta) and Susan (Polo).  Things are boiling over with Susan to marry Rick Barnes (Vaughn), a wealthy businessman with fine standing in the community.

I’m probably going to spoil most of the film from here but it must be done to have a full appreciation of just how senseless it really is.  Just as Rick is about to say “I do” at the wedding, an old friend, Ray Coleman (Buscemi) appears on the scene.  It turns out that Ray has been in jail and has come to claim his share of the loot that Rick ran off with.  A few weeks after the wedding, Rick agrees to give Ray a large cash sum to settle the ledger.

That same night, Susan comes home to tell Rick that she’s pregnant.  Danny overhears the conversation and is upset.  When Rick says he’s going into town to do some work, Danny hides in the back seat of Rick’s car to sneak a ride into town to see his bad.  But it turns out Rick isn’t “working”.  He picks up Ray (who’s waiting for his money), kills him and then burns the body in the oven of an old warehouse.

At the warehouse, Danny manages to sneak out of the car undetected and runs to his dads house where they call the police.  However when the police arrive at the warehouse, there’s no evidence of any murder and everyone believes Danny is just causing trouble because he’s upset at his mother’s new marriage.  Of course Frank still believes him and with the police not helping, begins an investigation of his own to find out who Rick Barnes really is.

I’ve done a rough calculation in my head and I think the odds of this happening is about 400 billion-to-one.  Let me look at some of the striking coincidences that occur for this to take place.  (1) Ray arrives just as the wedding takes place; (2) Frank sees Ray at the wedding and introduces himself - and hence he knows his name; (3) Frank runs to Ray in a restaurant a few weeks later and asks why he’s still in town whilst at the same time, Rick sees them having lunch; (4) Susan tells Rick she pregnant the same night he’s going to murder Ray; (5) Danny decides to sneak the ride in Rick’s car and somehow goes unnoticed; (6) just as Ray realises Danny is in the back seat, he is killed, (7) the police somehow find no evidence of Ray’s body or whereabouts and don’t seem to care.

I’d go and talk about the second half of the film but I couldn’t be bothered.  Let’s cut right to the chase then.  Frank discovers the truth about Rick months later when he does a simple internet search using the name “Ray Coleman”.  How weak is that?  Just how dumb are these people?

The only saving grace for the film are decent performances from the cast.  Without excelling, they at least look interested even if their scripted lines and reactions are completely illogical.  Very poorly written and directed, Domestic Disturbance is unworthy of cinema release and should have been seen straight off the video shelf.  Then again, it shouldn’t have been seen at all.