Sony // 2004 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Erick Harper (Retired) // June 7th, 2004
"It's got a lot of shit in it." -- Director Jack Perez, referring to Wild Things 2
The original Wild Things was a delightfully trashy whodunit, full of twists and turns and wild sex and quirky characters. It's a great guilty pleasure movie, a flick that is far more entertaining and clever than it has any right to be. It also reveled in its sense of tawdry exploitation and titillation.
Flash forward to 2004, and Wild Things 2 has made is direct-to-video debut. More remake than sequel, this new flick, like the old one, follows the twists and turns of a masterful scam with a ridiculous sum of money hanging in the balance. We follow the tangled web woven by two high school girls. Susan Ward (Poison Ivy: The New Seduction) plays Brittney Havers, the spoiled rich girl -- basically, the Denise Richards role from the original. Leila Arcieri (Son of the Beach) replaces Neve Campbell as Maya King, the skeezy trailer-park girl from the swamps. Between the two of them, they hatch a plot to swipe the $70 million fortune of Brittney's stepdad, Niles Dunlap (Tony Denison, Playmakers). Also in the mix are a coroner who may be crooked (Joe Michael Burke, General Hospital, in basically the Matt Dillon role) and an insurance investigator who smells something fishy (Isaiah Washington, Hollywood Homicide).
That's really about all I can tell you without starting to hand out spoilers right and left. If you've seen the original, you will practically be able to write the script yourself as you go along. If you haven't seen the original, well, go rent that instead. You see, therein lies the dilemma of Wild Things 2: If you've seen the original, there's no need to see this one. If you haven't, you probably don't have any desire to see this one. Wild Things 2 follows the formula of the first movie faithfully. There is an insanely, almost incomprehensibly convoluted get-rich plot featuring two high school girls from opposite sides of the tracks. There's lots of gratuitous T&A. There are explanations and revelations that still keep occurring in short bursts throughout the end credits. There's even a wacky threesome scene, to match the infamous motel room scene with Richards, Campbell, and Dillon. Well, not to match it, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's easy to see where the inspiration came from. The one thing that got left out of this movie was any sort of interesting depth to the characters. The first film was hardly Shakespearian in that regard, but at least there was some sense of backstory, some sense that they were real people with real quirks. This sequel skips all that, presenting us with an almost identical plot and mere ciphers for characters. It also lacks the first flick's sense of fun and decadence; try as it might, Wild Things 2 fails to convince us that it is having as much fun being naughty.
The best thing about this DVD (apart from its appealing circular shape) is the audio. There are English and Japanese Dolby 5.1 tracks that are far better than a movie like this deserves. Every sound of life in the Everglades comes to life, with cicadas whining, birds chirping, gators growling -- this is one of the most immersive audio environments I've heard on such a low-rent flick. Then, when the disposable techno/dance/whatever soundtrack kicks in, it becomes truly house-shaking. I'm at a loss; this is simply ridiculously good audio for this flick. The Japanese track is preferable, since then you won't have to listen to any insipid dialogue, and you can just make stuff up -- unless you happen to speak Japanese, that is, in which case you are basically screwed. Picture quality is about what one would expect from a Columbia TriStar disc of a low-rent title. (Coincidentally, it's not really any different from one of their high-rent titles.)
But wait! There's more! Yes, this disc actually has an attempt at special features. There is a collection of trailers, including a red-band trailer for this movie. (Why it is a red-band trailer is not immediately obvious on one viewing. I wasn't curious enough to go back for a second.) There is also a 22-minute featurette entitled "Wild Things 2: Making the Glades." It struck me as genuinely hilarious, the sort of making-of documentary that Christopher Guest might put together. Everyone is optimistic to the point of delusion about their new project, and they talk about it as if it were an exercise in serious filmmaking. To be fair, director Jack Perez (La Cucaracha, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys) does make some interesting points. Perez seems like a very likeable, knowledgeable person and after listening to him, I can understand how working on a low-budget, schlocky film like this one is good training for better things to come. After all, look at the good and/or successful filmmakers who are alumni of Roger Corman's productions. One hopes that Perez does as well, because he's certainly starting in a similar place.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* "Wild Things 2: Making the Glades" Documentary Featurette
* Theatrical Trailer
* Bonus Trailers