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Domestic Disturbance (2001)
Directed by Harold Becker Story by Lewis Colick, William S. Comanor & Gary Drucker Screenplay by Lewis Colick
The movie starts out with Frank (John Travolta) celebrating selling one of his finely made wood boats for a lovely couple, as he races off to catch his son Danny’s (Matt O’Leary) game. Meeting up with his ex-wife Susan, (Teri Polo) they learn from the coach of their son’s disappearance. Later having to speak with the Sargent about Danny’s troubled ways, acting up whenever some sort of major life change would occur. In the past with his parent’s divorce and as of recent, her getting re-married. Frank speaks with his son about needing to give mom’s new guy a break and that the way he remembered things, it wasn’t all too great when they were married, always fighting and best if they just moved on.
Frank returns home to girlfriend Diane, (Susan Floyd) confiding to her his fear of trying to get his son to like this “other” guy and then it turning out that he forgets all about him. Speaking of those types of things actually happening. Deciding all the same to go ahead and ask Rick (Vince Vaughn) out on the boat with him and Danny like Susan had suggested. Conversation and a business offer are both extended to Frank on whether he would be interested in building some boats for his new business. Politely declining, we’re then taken to Susan and Rick’s wedding, as a surprise guest seems to make Rick lose his concentration during the ceremony. The bride and groom take time to thank the guests as Frank becomes curious of who his friend may be; catching up with him at the bar. He introduces himself to Ray Coleman (Steve Buscemi) who says he’s known Rick since school; suddenly leaving to meet back up with his old pal motioning for him. A silent discussion between the two has Rick explaining how he had stopped by at the wrong time, offering to put him up in a motel for a couple of days until ready to discuss past matters.
A “rough” altercation during a game of catch leaves Danny a bit perturbed, explaining to his father that Rick had thrown the ball hard on purpose. Frank later sees Ray at a restaurant and makes small talk inquiring as to why he was still in town when stating only in for the day. Rick passes by to see the two chatting; later checking in at the motel to see why he had been in town and what exactly had been said when talking to his wife’s ex. It seems he had been running from his business partners; Ray was just the first to locate him. Extending a warning for him to leave town, returning to hear the news of his newly wife expecting a child of which Danny doesn’t handle well. A late night visit sends Rick off as it seems he unknowingly had a stowaway (Danny hid in the car to get closer to town). After picking up his old friend they go for a drive, taking a brief stop for the map..and some murder! Ray takes a stab to the back as he’s driven to an old warehouse uses for “work.” The only thing of use this particular night being the incinerator. Uninformed of Danny having witnessed the entire event, he returns to a home that the cops have already surrounded with the news of Danny having runaway. Not just that but informing the police of what he had seen. Though believing it to be nothing more than him crying wolf once again.
Seeming to be enough for Frank, he tells his son to “knock it off,” a dishearten Danny reluctantly going home with his mother. That night he gets a late visit from daddy dearest who warns of watching his step and being best if staying out-of-the-way. The next day Rick takes 50,000 and sets off to have a talk with Frank about what had happened and how he wasn’t taking the situation lightly. Asking when he would be able to begin building those boats having talked about, he’s shot down again as Frank explains how sleep had been the last thing on his mind last night. Demanding to know who his friend ray was and beginning to have doubts himself on Rick’s identity. So much so that at the end of school he goes to pick up Danny, fighting with Susan that there was something not right about this guy and he was going to get to the bottom of it. Susan chooses to pick a fight suggesting he was just jealous and if he had wanted to fight over custody than to do so in court. Detestation runs over Frank’s face as he cannot believe his ex wouldn’t be more concerned about the safety of their child. He takes Danny with him and punches another parent who attempts to interject with his two cents.
So off to court they go as it’s decided that a 12 year would be able to speak for himself and decide who he’d like to live with. Though Rick made sure to speak with him prior of it upsetting his mother had he not returned home with them; not wanting anything to happen to his father. So the trial begins and Danny takes the stand to lie as a means of protecting his father. Which only creates a snowball effect for Frank who begins to get antsy, escalating to confrontational when meeting up with the family one night and swinging a punch directly to Rick. Danny brings his father “his” wallet, that seemed to have dropped, pleading to stop making trouble but that he did need to be saved. Taking the hint and doing his own investigating while breaking into the warehouse seen earlier. Finding some information and going to the hotel Rick’s friend stayed at to obtain the number for a girl he had spent time with while in town. He offers to pay for the lighter given to the woman as he shares it with the Police, suggesting they would find prints and him connected in some way to Rick in a negative aspect. Having no luck with the police, he approaches Rick with the threat if touching his son in a wrong manner, being the last thing he ever did.
Checking up on something having remembered about Ray (the team his lady friend said he cheered for being Chicago) and finding information along with 3 other of his buddies. They all shared a conviction of which the only one acquitted of all charges was Rick. Printing the report and sending an email to Sgt. Edgar Stevens he’s caught off guard when Rick comes out of nowhere and hits him over the head. Taking the printed paper as he throws gas all over the place and lights it on fire. Back at the house Rick tends to his wounds in the bathroom with the door open, just asking to be caught as Susan does take notice; surprise, surprise. She then calmly gives Rick a speech about leaving and makes her way to the garage. Taking her sweet time in actually leaving though so that he’s able to catch up. An all out chase around the house becomes a battle of the dad’s as Frank jumps in at the last-minute with thanks to Danny for the assist in making it an “electrifying” night for them all.
Final Thoughts: Throughout the movie you will feel hatred for the mother Susan. I can 100% see where she is coming from but still you must feel that hatred towards her. This poor father was just doing what most parents don’t, listening/believing his child concerning something. Vaughn’s great looking, sure. But leaving him with this supposed killer and not being a bit suspicious after he asks to send your child away. That doesn’t bring up any doubts? But than you have to think of it from her side; it’s clear the son favors the father who had lost contact with him prior, having a small drinking problem in the past. This time around he wasn’t looking to lose that connection but it constantly seemed like he was “jealous” or trying to hold onto something that no longer existed. O’Leary played the role well; still maintain that Brick was the best thing I’ve seen him in. Loved the small cameo from Buscemi, he’s always a nice surprise when on-screen. Vaughn may be mostly known for his humor but had perfected his eerie glare and grin well before those days. I’d actually like to see him in more roles of such. As one of those creepy guys with glasses and his hair combed over with no one really paying attention to him but being the psychopathic silent type (No, not like Psycho either). Another ending that felt rushed but did so on an acceptable note. It seemed like all hope was lost and of course they caught the bad guy and Susan lost her baby but maybe she shouldn’t. Maybe she should have to live with the fact that she was carrying some stranger’s baby. But that’s just me not always wanting to see the most logical closing point occur in a film. Still worth a watch and not too bad of a thriller about the evilness that is step-parents.