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With: Matt Dillon, Kevin Bacon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Bill Murray, Theresa Russell, Robert Wagner, Carrie Snodgress
Written by: Stephen Peters
Directed by: John McNaughton
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexuality, nudity, language and some violence
Running Time: 108
Date: 03/20/1998

Wild Things (1998)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Swamp 'Things'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

John MacNaughton's Wild Things is one of the sexiest movies to come along in a while, but that's only for the first half-hour. After that, it turns into a guessing game of who's alive and who's dead, who's involved, and who's going to be the winner, with new endings popping up one after the other.

But on with the sex part. Wild Things has in its cast Neve Campbell (Scream and Scream 2), one of the flat-out cutest people walking the earth, and Denise Richards, a newcomer who was in Starship Troopers, who is the product of 90's-style nutrition and exercise, and is chiseled into a perfect creature. McNaughton has a ball using their every gesture, every move, every blink of their eyes, to suggest sex. Everything they do can be seen as some kind of flirt, or grinding motion, or tease. It's incredibly hot.

Matt Dillon stars as Sam Lombardo, a high school counselor and boat enthusiast. He is accused of rape by both Kelly Van Ryan (Richards) and Suzie (Campbell). Kelly is the daughter of the richest and most powerful woman in town Sandra Van Ryan (Theresa Russell), who proceeds to destroy Lombardo's life. Suzie is "swamp trash," a poor girl who lives in a trailer by the Florida swamplands. During the trial, it comes out that both girls are lying, and Mrs. Van Ryan has to pay off Lombardo for all the horrible things she's done to him.

Then we find out that this whole thing was planned, but by whom and how is not made clear until the very end.

I heartily recommend Wild Things for its fits of teasing and eroticism (rare in American cinema) and for Bill Murray who has a great role as Lombardo's attorney. Expect to see something along the lines of the drive-in classic Gator Bait, a 1970's movie starring Playboy playmate Claudia Jennings as a sexy "swamp trash."

DVD Details: In conjunction with 2004's straight-to-video sequel, Columbia/TriStar has released the original in an "unrated version" with about two more minutes of footage; the best of which is used on Russell. The movie is available separately, or in a two-pack. Wild Things is still a lot of fun six years later, and looks great in its new 1 to 2.35 transfer. Extras include a Japanese-language track, subtitles, up-to-date filmographies and trailers for Wild Things, Wild Things 2, Cruel Intentions, New Best Friend and the straight-to-video Sin, starring Ving Rhames.

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