First up on June's catching up list of dark comedies is what was recommended to me for a starting point - 1998's 'Very Bad Things'. I dunno if this became some kind of a cult classic over the years, considering I think I know quite a few people who enjoy it. It's generally rated somewhere in the middle. I'm sorry to say that this is one time where I side with the critical end of things, and found myself actually really disliking this movie.
Our story includes five dudes, who head to Vegas for a bachelor party. The cast is actually pretty great - The husband to be, Kyle (Jon favreau), Charles (Leland Orser); Adam and Michael Berkow (Daniel Stern and Jeremy Piven, respectively) and Boyd (Christian Slater) who represents the overall testicular fortitude of the film. During the party, something pretty horrible happens, and the film is mostly about the guys trying to keep it covered up, back home. But when some of them start cracking under the pressure, things start to escalate and unravel.
Meanwhile, Kyle's wife to be, Laura (Cameron Diaz), is worried beyond belief of her wedding day not going her way. That's unfortunately her whole character here - the bratty, manipulative princess. However, Adam's wife, Lois (Jeanne Tripplehorn) actually came across as a bit of that mixed with the moral compass of the film. She just wants to get to the truth about what happened, and she digs, and it's irritating, but she's still tough enough against these guys that she comes across as a good character for the most part.
These guys though. I swear to God, Christian Slater was the only one who didn't just annoy the hell out of me at least once. The worst culprit, for me, was Daniel Stern. When he got going, he just wouldn't stop. It was enough to give you a headache. The rest of them break down and buckle under the pressure in very pathetic looking ways. I totally get it, they're supposed to be average people undergoing something very traumatic. But this was mostly done for comedic effect, and it just comes off as sad... but like, not the kind of "sad" you might think.
For my money, Christian Slater was the only really likable character here. He's the rebellious one of the group, wanting to party hard, get his friends messed up, etc. But most importantly, he was the only one to stay cool through about 90% of the movie. The rest of them - the dialogue is just a bunch of screaming and yelling and noise and it's just plain irritating. One word that perfectly describes this movie, to me, is "obnoxious".
I'll give the movie credit for probably being the overall inspiration (or one thing to inspire) 'The Hangover', which I liked MUCH better (the first one, anyway). I'll also give it that I laughed a couple of times, and I appreciated how they managed to film what being high might look like... but not a whole lot more. For the most part, I really just thought this was an awful, noisy mess, full of unlikable characters who you just don't care much about by the time it's all over. But again, reviews for these seem to meet in the middle, so maybe it just wasn't for me in the same way Dane Cook just isn't for me. I mean, if you get a laugh out of a lot of screaming and yelling and crying and people losing their shit, you might get something from it.