Bad Influence

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Review by Morbus Iff

James Spader plays Michael, a spineless and trod-upon white collar worker who buys things simply because he can, to Rob Lowe's manipulative and aggressive Alex who offers limitless adventures if you simply listen to the inner voice that fantasizes about growing a pair. And grow Michael does: after only a few hours with the kingdom-offering devil, he's buying drinks for other women, cheating on his fiance, and sabotaging his work rival's meeting. When Michael's indiscretion is televised to his soon-to-be family and friends, he storms out in rage and embarrassment only to hop right into Alex's car, sleep with club hopper Claire (Lisa Zane) again, snort some cocaine, rob a few stores, and send someone to the hospital.

The inevitable third act of films like Bad Influence is just how far the manipulator will go to exert his hold on his newest protege, and how much redemption the forcibly transformed victim will receive in the end. Here it falters with too many bit characters suddenly getting major parts: Michael's weed-smoking and penniless brother becomes a life-saving hero of restraint, and a 30-second security guard from the first half begrudgingly loans his gun even though he's still on-duty. Michael's saving throw is never clearly made: he plots to turn Alex in with a videotape of his own, but is then startled into shooting him by his inept brother; the same mixed signal applied to spurious purchases: golf clubs bad, camera good. Rob Lowe was great to watch though: his lines and mannerisms made us grin more than a few times, and it's been years since we've heard of, much less seen, the La Brea tarpits.

Death and sleaze index

Death by: 1: blunt force trauma, head trauma, golf club; 2: gun. Sleaze by: 1: breasts, full-frontal nudity (unfulfilled); 2: sex (unfulfilled); 3: sex, breasts; 4: breasts 5: sex, breasts, three-way (unfulfilled), pubic hair; 6: lesbians, sex (unfulfilled), pubic hair.

Image gallery

Automatically generated and alphabetized; expect disorder, but automation preferred.