It’s hard enough for a kid to adjust to a new parent, but it can be downright impossible if said adult turns out to be a psychopath. When an 11-year-old (Matthew O’Leary) witnesses his stepfather (Vince Vaughn) committing a horrible crime, no one believes him but his father (John Travolta), a down-and-out boat builder. ”The boy’s not only crying wolf,” says Harold Becker (”Sea of Love”), ”he’s living with him. It’s a reign of terror.” (The production had its own moment of terror when Steve Buscemi was stabbed in the face and neck during a fight with locals at a North Carolina bar. Vaughn was arrested in the melee, fined, and released; Buscemi was able to return to work the next week.) Says Vaughn of his volatile character, ”I don’t think he’s psychotic, I think he’s pathological. He doesn’t want to mess around with the kid, but the kid’s seen something, and now he has to handle it.”
Scripter Lewis Colick (”October Sky”) says he unearthed the plot in the most unlikely of places: his own backyard. ”My neighbor, UCLA professor William Comanor [who receives story credit], walked over one day and said, ‘I have an idea,”’ he says. ”I thought, ‘Uh-oh, time to move off the street.’ But there was something there.” A screenwriter being handed an idea for a movie? Sounds like he’s living on easy street.