Very Bad Things

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Very Bad Things
Very Bad Things.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Peter Berg
Produced by Cindy Cowan
Diane Nabatoff
Michael Schiffer
Screenplay by Peter Berg
Based on Very Bad Things 
by Gene Brewer
Starring Cameron Diaz
Jon Favreau
Daniel Stern
Jeremy Piven
Christian Slater
with Leland Orser
and Jeanne Tripplehorn
Music by Stewart Copeland
Cinematography David Hennings
Edited by Dan Lebental
Distributed by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment
Release dates
  • November 25, 1998 (1998-11-25)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $9.9 million[2]

Very Bad Things is a 1998 American black comedy film directed by Peter Berg, based on the book by Gene Brewer. It stars Cameron Diaz, Jon Favreau, Daniel Stern, Jeremy Piven, Christian Slater, Leland Orser and Jeanne Tripplehorn.


In the midst of preparing for his wedding and desperate for a break from his "Bridezilla" fiancée Laura (Cameron Diaz), Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) organizes a bachelor party in a Las Vegas hotel with his best friends: Charles Moore (Leland Orser), Robert Boyd (Christian Slater), and brothers Adam and Michael Berkow (Daniel Stern and Jeremy Piven), spending the night with drinks, drugs and a stripper/prostitute, Tina (Kobe Tai). Things go awry when Michael gets drunk and pays Tina extra money for sex in the bathroom only to accidentally slam her against a wall and impale a towel hook through her head, killing her instantly. As the group argues over what to do -- Adam insisting that they call the police, Boyd adamant about burying Tina's body in the desert -- a security guard comes to investigate the noise and sees Tina's corpse in the bathroom. In desperation, Boyd stabs the guard to death and the group is forced to dismember the bodies before taking them to the desert for burial.

Over the next few days, Adam remains riddled with guilt over his role in the cover-up, particularly when the guard's disappearance (as well as the fact that the man had two children) appears in the paper, and becomes paranoid that the authorities are closing in on him. In contrast, Boyd begins to display increasingly sociopathic behavior and a fascination with violence and death. At the rehearsal dinner, Adam cracks under the pressure, leading to a confrontation with Michael in the parking lot. Though the group breaks up the fight and convinces Michael to leave, he tries to ram his jeep into Adam's beloved minivan. Adam desperately runs in front of his minivan to stop him and is crushed in the inevitable collision. In the hospital, Adam whispers something to his wife Lois (Jeanne Tripplehorn) before succumbing to his wounds while Michael, wracked with guilt, becomes slightly insane over his brother's death.

Lois calls the remaining men and demands answers about what happened in Las Vegas. Fisher desperately makes up a story about Adam sleeping with a prostitute, and not for the first time. But Boyd, suspecting that Lois does not believe them and will call the police, convinces the others to take her and Adam's dog and two unruly sons to be looked after by Fisher and Laura while he kills Lois. Afterwards, Boyd calls Fisher and Moore to bring Michael to the house, where he quietly shoots him dead before rejoining Fisher and Moore in the car. He concocts an alibi about a Michael/Lois/Adam love triangle to answer any interrogation by police. Fisher and Laura are named the beneficiary of Adam and Lois' estate and awarded custody of their dog and children, but find that a combination of debt and negligence has denied them the majority of Adam's life-insurance policy. Fisher finally breaks down and confesses the story to Laura, who demands that the wedding she has dreamed about having since childhood will proceed as planned regardless of whatever crimes Fisher and his friends have committed.

On the wedding day, Boyd, now completely insane, confronts Fisher and demands a portion of Adam's life-insurance money. Fisher refuses and a fight ensues which ends with Laura viciously bludgeoning Boyd with a hatstand. During the ceremony, Fisher and Moore realize that Boyd, who was originally meant to be best man, still has the wedding rings. While Moore goes to retrieve them, Boyd, who had survived Laura's assault and was on his way to seek retribution, is knocked down a stairwell when Moore opens the door and succumbs to his wounds. After the ceremony, Laura, not wanting to be implicated for her role in Boyd's death, demands that Fisher bury Boyd's body in the desert and then ensure no loose ends remain by killing Moore along with Adam's dog. Ultimately, Fisher cannot go through with the act and as he reminisces about happier times with his friends on the drive home, loses focus and crashes into an oncoming car.

An unknown amount of time later, all three are shown to have survived the crash although Fisher has had both his legs amputated below the knee, Moore is brain damaged and confined to a motorized wheelchair, and the dog is missing one of his legs, leaving Laura to care for all of them on her own in addition to raising Adam's sons. As Laura watches Fisher's futile attempt to control the two boys, she realizes her life and dreams are totally ruined and suffers a nervous breakdown as she runs out of the house and collapses screaming in the street.



The film scored a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus, "Mean-spirited and empty."[3] Roger Ebert wrote that Very Bad Things is "not a bad movie, just a reprehensible one."[4] Some critics appreciated the cold-blooded approach, however. Mitland McDonagh of TV Guide said, "In a world filled with crude movie sitcoms, Berg's bitter, worst-possible-case scenario really does stand alone."[5]


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