“Domestic Disturbance” is a kid”s nightmare about a parent”s remarriage made real. It is on par with movies like “Hand that Rocks the Cradle” and “Flowers in the Attic,” in that the entire suspense of the movie relies on the absence of trust in a relationship where one would normally expect it (such as a nanny, a mother or in this case, a stepfather). Films like these can be hard to watch because they do go right to the emotional core, but that is also what makes them so good and scary.
“Domestic Disturbance” is really a story about a father and son. Frank (John Travolta) is a divorced boat maker who lives for his work and his son. Danny is your average 12-year-old, who has a tendency to be problematic whenever there is trouble with his parents. A significant attention-getting mischief occurs simultaneously with the news that his mother is getting remarried to Rick (Vince Vaughn).
Danny doesn”t like Rick, and things don”t really change after the wedding, especially when Rick lets his dark side slip a bit on Danny. Oh yeah, Danny also witnesses Rick kill a guy and burn his body. Unfortunately, the night Danny comes across Rick”s late-night activities, he also discovers his mother is pregnant.
The twist comes when Danny does the right thing and heads to his dad and the police to testify to what he saw. Everyone thinks he is lying simply to get attention again. It”s just like the kid who cried wolf, and when the wolf finally came, no one believed him.
From then on, the suspense in the movie continually builds. The big turning point for Danny is when Frank realizes his son has never lied to him, even though he lies to everyone else, and then he begins a massive investigation to find out who Rick really is.
John Travolta is great in “Domestic Disturbance.” He has always been so perfect in the good guy role, yet recently he has been expanding his horizons playing a few really bad guys as well (“Broken Arrow,” “Face Off” and “Swordfish”). He does both roles well but somehow seems to fit so much better as the hero.
Vince Vaughn, on the other hand, is quickly becoming typecast as the “crazy” guy. After re-creating the role of Norman Bates in 1998″s Psycho, he has perfected his crazed, out-of-control look. He has this calm about him, and yet watching him one feels as though he is simply waiting in the eye of the storm and the worst is yet to come.
The one flaw in “Domestic Disturbance” was minor. It involved the pairing of John Travolta and Teri Polo (“Meet the Parents”) as his ex-wife. Polo is fine, but she is 15 years younger than Travolta, and it seems odd that they already have a 12-year-old son together. Granted, this is a small complaint but annoying nonetheless.
Overall this film was a taut thriller that managed to keep the suspense up all the way to the end. Would it be nit-picking to find the ending somewhat predictable? If so, it is only a slight speed bump in an otherwise disturbance-free, thrilling ride.