Domestic Disturbance

There is something about thrillers where characters undergo vast personality changes, or are able to hide their true nature so well that even their spouses are in the dark about who they really are. Domestic Disturbance is a new by-the-numbers thriller that mines the same formula without any negligible improvement. John Travolta (Swordfish, Lucky Numbers) is in the Michael Douglas role as a divorced father. His son Danny (Matt O'Leary, Mom's Got a Date with a Vampire) lives with his ex-wife Susan (Teri Polo, Meet the Parents, Texarkana). Frank (Travolta) and Susan are on good terms, mainly for the welfare of Danny.

Like many children of broken families, Danny wants his parents to be back together. He has a history of trouble with the police, especially every time something happened in this parents divorce. So when Susan announces she is marrying Rick (Vince Vaughn, Zoolander, Made), everybody brushes off Danny's accusations that he saw Rick kill somebody. Everybody, that is, except Frank (of course). See, Danny lies to everybody, just not to Frank. And Danny really did witness a murder perpetrated by Rick. The police cannot find any evidence, and Rick is such an upstanding community citizen that nobody believes he is capable. Even Frank eventually begins to doubt his son.

However, Danny is right, and it's just a matter of time before Rick goes psycho. Director Harold Becker (Solo, Mercury Rising) takes his sweet time, mostly to establish a false sense of security. He needs to show Rick's good side, as well as his slow change. This change is the result of the appearance of Ray (Steve Buscemi, Ghost World, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), who comes to Susan and Rick's wedding. Rick is ill at ease, and the only person who notices is Frank. The police refuse to investigate with any depth because of Danny's history of crying wolf and exaggerating. It is also just a matter of time before Susan realizes her mistake, and Frank goes ballistic. To his credit, Becker does generate a mild amount of suspense. Most of it is moot because of the connect-the-dots nature of the story.

Vaughn's character is the most problematic. He surely spent time around Danny, but only starts to act ominously towards him after the engagement. Isn't it in his best interest not to act that way? He does it in front of Susan, how hard can it be? As a result of her ignorance, Polo's character comes off as a little ignorant. Travolta has the most sympathetic character, only because the script by Lewis Colick (October Sky, Ghosts of Mississippi), William S. Comanor, and Gray Drucker (Red Heat) deems him so. He is a struggling boat maker, trying to be civil around his wife and love his son. He will do whatever he can to ensure Danny's safety. His acting is a little better than some of his recent work, only because those roles were so bad.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 29 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, brief sexuality, and language.

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