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''Very Bad Things'' is a very dark comedy

Jon Favreau and Cameron Diaz star in this tale of a bachelor party gone wrong

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In Very Bad Things, a very twisted dark comedy, Cameron Diaz returns to the altar as a bride-to-be named Laura. But if you’re expecting another sweet-natured wedding belle like the one she played in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding, think again. Even as Laura exhibits textbook devotion to Martha Stewart (her reception seating plan alone is more strategic than a military air strike), she’ll stop at nothing to get down the aisle — and that includes pummeling a groomsman with a coat tree. Meanwhile, her fiance (Jon Favreau) is having his own jitters; when a prostitute is murdered during his bachelor party, ”it’s an open door for disaster,” understates Diaz.

After the murder, the coke-snorting revelers — including Christian Slater, Jeremy Piven, Daniel Stern, and Leland Orser — concoct a gruesome cover-up scheme, orchestrated by first-time director Peter Berg (more familiar as Chicago Hope‘s Dr. Billy Kronk). ”I hadn’t read anything that outrageous or rageful in such a long time, where a character really gets to express himself,” Slater says of his attraction to the material, which was written by Berg.

Slater’s outrageous behavior off the set was also attracting attention while the movie was in production. Less than two months before shooting began, Slater was arrested for beating his girlfriend, assaulting an LAPD officer, and being under the influence of cocaine. On his lawyers’ advice, he refused to speak to reporters on the set. Slater has since cleaned up his act, and he’s doing promotion for the film while starring on Broadway in Side Man, but Berg and PolyGram had to face yet another public-relations hurdle when Very Bad Things met some very bad resistance before the MPAA ratings board. ”We had a horrible time getting an R rating,” says Berg, who was forced to trim sex scenes in order to avoid an NC-17.

Oddly enough, he was allowed to keep a graphic, disturbing shot of Slater holding a saw covered with chunks of human flesh. ”I put that in there knowing they would say to lose it,” Berg says. ”But they didn’t.” Thank-you notes should be sent care of the MPAA.

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