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disturbing behavior

Disturbing Behavior

Starring James Marsden, Nick Stahl and Katie Holmes;
William Sadler and Bruce Greenwood
Screenplay by Scott Rosenberg
Directed by David Nutter
website: www.mgm.com

IN SHORT: It's been done to death

Think Troma with a budget.

True, normally I send my eDrive compatriot Trent Haaga to see the scary flix, but Trent's been scarce lately -- he was cast as the lead in a major studio chop chop film himself. More about that in future columns.

Which means Cranky had to sit through Disturbing Behavior, written by Scott Rosenberg (Con Air) and directed by David Nutter (TV's X-Files). Which should've been a promising combination, except for two things. 1) This script, or at least the story, has been sitting around since "the last days of the Bush administration" which means it only got made because Con Air was a hit.

And Con Air was not a hit because of the script, as all you long term readers know...

The Second strike is that even the movie studio isn't trying to disguise the fact that this story is a lame ripoff of Ira Levin's "The Stepford Wives", both novel and film and at least half a dozen variations on it done as TV movies over the years.

The only name actor in the thing, William Sadler is saddled with a part that even Steve Buscemi would've turned down -- actually he probably did -- a quirky mentally lame janitor, who isn't as mentally lame as he lets on. Why the put on? That's just another undeveloped possibility, though it does bring up the question of: "Is Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse Five" still relevant to the modern teen generation?" Discuss and e-mail me back. It's important in this film, but that's probably because the setting is Maine, where not much has happened since the last days of the Bush Administration.

The rest of the cast are total no-names, with the exception of Dawson's Creek star Katie Holmes. The WB has enough fans to fill a theater for about a week, which is the probable shelf life of this poor excuse for a thriller.

Everything you need to know about Disturbing Behavior you've seen in the commercial. Small town. Wild Kids for whom Surgery Makes It All Better. The only glitch is that when they get horny, they kill. Failing that, they maim or disfigure.

Steve Clark (James Marsden), the new kid in Cradle Bay, Maine, doesn't want to be there. His family moved from Chicago after his brother committed suicide -- Cranky guesses moving was cheaper than going to a shrink. We are quickly introduced to the subgroups in the local high school, geeks, dopers, techies and the "Blue Ribbon" Stepford Kids. Steve bonds with the totally bored Rachel (Holmes) and dopehead Gavin (Nick Stahl), sees Gavin fall into the clutches of the evil Dr. Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) and the Blue Ribbons (you know they're evil -- they hang out at The Yogurt Shoppe and listen to Olivia Newton John records). Oh, the horror.

Think Beaver Cleaver as Anti-Christ and you're farther along than Rosenberg is in his thinking which sort of stops with the disturbing thought that brainwashing doesn't work on stupid kids. It just turns 'em into drooling defectives, and we know that only because the story idea is so badly conceived that the characters can, for example, waltz right into a looney hospital at night where the patients wander around freely, unmedicated, and the guards are nowhere to be seen. Until the by the book chase and escape sequence. zzzzzzzz.

How bad is it? Trent would've given this flick the perfect $8 see it twice rating, that's how bad it is. And he'll buy the laserdisk when it gets marked down to the $5 bins, too.

That's not to say that Disturbing Behavior is a total loss. It is so bad it has some very funny moments. Some are intentional. Most are not. It isn't camp enough to rise to the levels of Austin Powers (which Cranky also disliked) or The Rocky Horror Picture Show (which he saw in his pre-reviewer days), but it is bad enough that Cranky actually thought about coming up with something extra special in the way of a slam. But I'm going on vacation, and suggest that you do the same.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Disturbing Behavior, he would have paid . . .

$1.00

Get someone else to buy the tickets and you'll have a couple of laughs. Both at the film and at your friend's expense.


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