There are movies that are unintentionally cheesy but wind up being very enjoyable. And then there are movies that deliberately try to be cheesy but end up being horrible instead.
Lump the irritating black comedy/thriller "Wild Things" in with the latter - and then take it away. Please.An extremely self-conscious attempt to make "Body Heat" for the "Scream" set, the movie is so utterly repellent and so stupidly manipulative that it makes TV's "Melrose Place" look like "Masterpiece Theater." And if not for an unexpectedly hilarious turn by Bill Murray as a low-rent, shyster attorney, it would be completely unwatchable.
This who's-crossing-whom thriller certainly lives up to its name. It begins with high-school counselor Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) being falsely accused of rape by two of his students, rich girl Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards, from "Starship Troopers") and outcast Suzie Toller ("Scream's" Neve Campbell).
The case goes to trial, but thanks to hard work by attorney Ken Bowden (Murray), Sam is cleared of all charges. The two immediately turn the tables on Sam's accusers, and a threatened malicious prosecution suit is settled out of court - but only after Kelly's millionaire mother (Theresa Russell) has to pay through the nose.
Obviously, there's more to the story than meets the eye, and a pair of detectives, Ray Duquette (Kevin Bacon) and Gloria Perez (Daphne Rubin-Vega), begin trailing Sam and the two teens, who all seem to be in cahoots.
As if you couldn't guess, someone gets killed, someone evidently gets away with it and there are quite a few character "revelations" that are supposed to be startling - including a lesbian subtext that's there for male moviegoer titillation only.
(And as reported almost everywhere else, there's also the fabled "money shot" of a fully nude Bacon, which isn't in the movie for artistic reasons either.)
But anyone who's ever watched or even skimmed by a TV soap (daytime or nighttime) can see everything that's coming, thanks to the lack of subtlety by director John McNaughton, who proves once and for all that his sickening debut "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" was no fluke.
Of course, it doesn't help that the cast is so inept, especially the usually dependable Dillon, Campbell and Bacon. Even worse are the performances by Richards (no surprise), Russell (not too surprising either) and Robert Wagner, whose sole reason to be in the film is to up its quotient of four-letter words.
It should also be noted that the movie ends with a series of "behind-the-scenes" type snippets that are supposed to help explain character motivations and plot points after the fact - rather unsuccessfully.
"Wild Things" is rated R for violent fistfights and gunplay, profanity, vulgar double-entendres and gags, female and male nudity, a couple of graphic simulated sex scenes, drug use and some brief gore.