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Paramount Studios presents
Domestic Disturbance (2001)

"The thing is that he lies to everyone. His mom, grandmother, teachers—but he doesn't lie to me."
- Frank Morrison (John Travolta)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: April 23, 2002

Stars: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn
Other Stars: Teri Polo, Steve Buscemi, Matthew O'Leary
Director: Harold Becker

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, violence, language
Run Time: 01h:29m:11s
Release Date: April 16, 2002
UPC: 097363377245
Genre: suspense thriller

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ CA-B B-

DVD Review

For those who fail to get their fill of movies featuring homicidal family members and other assorted threats to the seemingly perfect American family, Domestic Disturbance may be a worthy fix for your addiction. In truth, aside from the larger scope, bigger stars, and marginally better acting, there is little about Domestic Disturbance that differentiates it from any similarly themed movie of the week. For fans of well-constructed thrillers, this may seem like a bad case of déjà vu; there is little here that has not been seen countless times before.

In a quaint town on the eastern seaboard, Frank Morrison (Travolta) is living a simple life as a boat builder,taking his newly divorced lifestyle in stride. His ex-wife Susan (Polo) is planning her marriage to the seemingly perfect Rick (Vaughn), much to the dismay of her teenage son Danny (O'Leary), who seems to rebelling against everything his mother does. Danny does begin to bond with Rick and is growing more content with his mother having a new husband. But things change when a business associate of Rick's named Ray (Buscemi) shows up at the wedding and starts to shed light on the groom's hidden past. Soon Danny sees Rick murder Ray and subsequently runs to the police. Of course no one believes him except Frank, who makes it his mission to prove that his son is telling the truth, hopefully before Rick kills again.

Anyone familiar with this sort of film is almost certain to know the road that Domestic Disturbance travels. I am not asking to be shocked by this sort of movie, but the script by screenwriter Lewis Colick holds no tension whatsoever. We know Ray is a horrible person from the outset. Perhaps a wiser move would have been to leave in doubt whether Ray in fact committed the crime, to help maintain some sort of interest through its predictable conclusion.

To make matters worse, the turning point (and main focus of the film) happens nearly halfway through, leaving only forty-five minutes to clear things up before the credits role. With only this short amount of time to offer up a resolution, director Harold Becker and Colick leave several questions hanging, as well as serving up one of the most implausible climactic sequences I have seen in recent memory.

And yet, through all of this there is something remotely enjoyable about Domestic Disturbance thanks in part to a nicely assembled cast. The performances, with the exception of Travolta, are good, with Vaughn and Buscemi simply owning the film. Vaughn plays his character well, easily sliding back and forth between menacing and likeable. Buscemi, who plays this sort of role better than anyone, is very good in his limited amount of screen time and his scenes with Vaughn have more energy than any others in the film. Travolta, whose scenes are surprisingly scarce, has what amounts to a significant supporting role. His work mostly feels forced, leaving his dialogue and performance flat and ultimately uninvolving.

Those looking for a good thriller would do well to steer clear of Domestic Disturbance and move on to something a bit more challenging. But for those looking for a nice rental on a rainy day won't be disappointed.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio Domestic Disturbance looks absolutely fantastic. The film is intended to be very dark with little vibrancy in the colors but when the color palette is exposed in the outdoor sequences it appears very natural. There are a few instances of edge enhancement in some scenes, while print flaws are kept to a minimum. Sharpness and detail are perfect, giving the transfer a nice film-like look. A very good transfer from Paramount.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English and Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Domestic Disturbance makes good use of its Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track, though the results fall short of making this a standout mix. The large, booming score by composer Mark Mancina is the star of the mix, filling the roomand helping add tension to a film desperately in need. Dialogue is crisp and clear with little problems, while the split surround speakers offer nice moments of directionality, but far less than I was hoping.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
6 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Harold Becker
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Domestic Disturbance did an average amount of business in its initial release and this is perhaps the reason Paramount has gone the extra mile in constructing this new DVD.

A commentary by director Harold Becker ranks as one of the more confusing tracks I have heard in some time. I enjoyed his comments throughout as he speaks at length about production, casting, and his direction, but there are heavy silences as well, which seemed to come in places I was most hoping for some sort of discussion.

There are six deleted scenes with or without commentary by Becker. Each is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and looks fine, though not on par with that used in the film. Several seem to have been taken out due to time constraints; several others appear to have little or nothing to do with the central story. Becker also offers an audio-only introduction to these scenes.

Rounding out the extra features are two storyboard sequences from the climax of the film as well as the original theatrical trailer.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

While Domestic Disturbance has its moments that feel like a bad movie of the week, it is interesting thanks to the work of both Vaughn and Buscemi. The transfer is as good as I have seen lately from Paramount and the extra features are decent, making a rental choice for those fans of the genre a safe bet.


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