Let's face it, whether we like to admit it or not, when most guys heard about this new thing called "High Definition" that allowed for vastly better picture quality, the first thing we thought of was how sweet it would be to see some naked women in high def. And Wild Things has definitely got some amazing naked women doing some pretty awesome things with each other. I've been eagerly awaiting this release on Blu-ray, so let's see how it stacks up.
Wild Things takes place in Blue Bay, Florida, a town where the super-rich live on one end, and the poorest of the poor live out by the swamps. Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) is the student guidance counselor at the local high school. He's popular with the students, and even more popular with a few of their mothers, if you catch my drift. One day, Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) goes to Sam's house to wash his car for a school function. She gets all hot, sweaty, and by the time she's done, her shirt is ripped and she's running home claiming Sam raped her. Turns out Denise's mother, Sandra Van Ryan (Theresa Russell), is one of the heaviest hitters in town, and she used to sleep with Sam, until he snubbed her to try and marry a different high society gal. She's so mad she's ready to, in her words, "nail his balls to the wall." To make matters worse, another student, Suzie Toller (Neve Campbell) is also accusing Sam of raping her a few years back. However, when the case comes to trail, Suzie admits under cross-examination that Sam had never raped her, and furthermore, he never raped Kelly and the whole story was a lie. Sam's lawyer (Bill Murray) sees dollars signs, and the two of them take Sandra Van Ryan for as much as they can.
Seems like that's the end of the story, right? Well, in this case, it's not. Without giving too much away, Wild Things is a movie about double crosses. Screenwriter Stephen Peters put together a nice little mystery yarn, always pulling the rug out from the audience but without ever making it feel contrived. Director John McNaughton (best known for directing the cult classic Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) puts the pieces together beautifully, making the audience feel like they're never exactly on even ground.
The real pleasure is the cast. Matt Dillon is great as Sam. He's convincing as one of those teachers who tries to be cool with his students, convincing as the victim of a false rape accusation, and just as good after he's been exonerated. The supporting cast, including Theresa Russell and Robert Wagner, make great additions and give even more muscle to the proceedings. Bill Murray is absolutely hilarious as Sam's lawyer, being both completely sleazy and yet apparently more competent than his modest office might suggest.
Of course, the main draw of Wild Things is the girl-on-girl action, courtesy of Denise Richards and Neve Campbell. Denise Richards is gorgeous as Kelly Van Ryan, the perfect mix of haughtiness and hotness. She is blistering in this role, the one she will always be known for. Neve Campbell is less sultry, but gives a better performance. Especially by the end, the layers in her role really shine through. And when the two of them get it on, the result is cinematic bliss.
But what really brings the viewers back is the story. It's really well written, with strong direction and excellent performances. Are the sex scenes great? Hell yeah they are. But the rest of the movie is so well done that when you put it on, you don't just skip ahead to the girls getting it on. Or at least I don't. Wild Things is all-around worth watching.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Considering that a big part of why I wanted this movie in high definition was for the crystal clear image of Denise Richards' body parts, I am fairly peeved at how badly this 2.40:1, AVC-encoded 1080p transfer turned out. The image is washed-out and riddled with edge enhancement. Detail is low, and blacks fall off very quickly. Aside from less artifacting, this looks no better than a DVD. And maybe not even an upconverted one.
With an uncompressed PCM 5.1 track, the aural side of Wild Things fares slightly better. But even then, the film is mostly dialogue driven (a few scenes near the end have some gunshots), although ambient effects do get tracked to the rears. As far as the mix being a major improvement over it's Dolby Digital counterpart (also available on the disc), well, it's not, but it does sound slightly better.
The original release of Wild Things on DVD had a few extras, most notably a director's commentary and deleted scenes. Most of the latter were incorporated into the unrated cut (which is the one featured on this Blu-ray disc), but dropped the director's commentary. This edition also has no extra features. None at all. Oh well.
Wild Things is a fun, sexy ride. Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Denise Richards, and Bill Murray make the film memorable (some more memorable than others), and even now it's a good watch. Sadly, this Blu-ray disc offers virtually no improvement over the DVD, including no extras of any kind. With that in mind, this disc is only a Rent it.
Daniel Hirshleifer is the High Definition Editor for DVD Talk.