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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

“Domestic Disturbance” Not That Disturbing

The story of the boy who cried wolf has entirely changed in “Domestic Disturbance,” starring John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Matthew O’Leary, Teri Polo and Steve Buscemi. What does a torn family do when their son, who has a history of lying, confesses he witnessed a murder by his new stepfather, the man he and his mother live with? Danny (O’Leary) confides in his protective and understanding biological father (Travolta) and Danny’s parents must decipher if this is just another one of his lies. The film races through scenes full of emotions and action with a somewhat predictable conclusion.

Set in a small harbor side community in Maryland, Frank Morrison (Travolta) is a struggling boat builder with a surprisingly healthy relationship with his ex-wife (Polo). Travolta, to appear as a hearty workman, has gained some weight for the film. He does a fine job convincing us that he is a loving and caring dad who only wants what is best for his troubled son. The film documents multiple father and son outings and sets up a close relationship between Danny (O’Leary) and Frank. The relationship appears healthy on screen but the conversations between the two are immature and unrealistic.

When Danny confides that he is not happy about his mother remarrying Rick Barnes (Vaughn), Frank is not sure what to believe. Danny relays a story about how verbally abusive Barnes was to him, but Frank is not sure if he is hearing a true story or another one of Danny’s motivated lies. Matthew O’Leary, a 14-year-old actor from Chicago, is the highlight of the film. Not only does he create the major plotline, but this talented young actor is able to sink to lows (being patronized by his stepfather) and rise above in major action sequences (he gets out of being tied-up and surrounded by broken window glass).

Vince Vaughn does a commendable job as the two-faced Rick Barnes. Since marrying his new wife, he has ditched his criminal ways of the past. She, of course, does not know this and Barnes must keep this information away from her. Vaughn flips from a sweet, adoring husband who you begin to respect, until you are forced to see his violent and abrasive side. Vaughn is one of the stronger characters in the film because of his ability to flip between personalities with such ease.

The script is weak at times and makes the characters appear flat and banal. Danny’s mother is an attractive young woman who sends her new husband off one night saying, “Drive careful, it looks like a storm is comin’ in.” We have this contemporary woman speaking like an old housewife and this trite instance, unfortunately, draws your attention away from the real action that is going on-Danny hiding in Barnes’ Suburban.

The film moves at fast clip, as it is only 88 minutes long, and although scenes move swiftly, there is a tendency to leave out helpful information that may have added strength to the script. Frank Morrison goes on a search to prove his son’s story is valid, but the search never really kicks into full mode because the scenes are always abbreviated and we are left to guess or assume the rest.

“Domestic Disturbance” is action packed within a short amount of time. The cast covers up the weaknesses in the script allowing for entertainment, but not a lot of disturbance.