Main cast: Patrick Wilson (Don Champagne), Katherine Heigl (Mona Champagne), Jordana Brewster (Dusty), Kevin McKidd (Freeman), Jim Belushi (Les), and AJ Buckley (Murphy)
Director: Anthony Burns
The Champagnes seem like a perfect family. They run a successful furniture business, are well-liked by the neighbors, and have two adorable kids. Behind closed doors, however, Mona Champagne runs the whole family and plans their destiny with an iron fist, often coming down hard on Don if he fails to meet her high expectations. Beleaguered and also not getting any from the wife as of late, the man is easy prey to new salesgirl Dusty’s seduction. Soon, he feels all cheery and active again… until Dusty announces that she is pregnant and starts blackmailing him for money. His business partner Les advises him to pay up, but she keeps coming back and asking for more dough.
Actually, Don is set up – Dusty isn’t pregnant, she’s with criminals Murphy and Freeman as they attempt to milk Don of as much money as they can get. But they haven’t counted on what Mona would do once she finds out that they are threatening her efforts to have the most perfect family ever.
Home Sweet Hell is such a wasted opportunity that it is almost criminal. The plot looks like it’d be something I’d love to sink my teeth into: dark comedy with some tinges of macabre violence. However, the script fails to capitalize on its premise: every time a scene builds up to getting somewhere good, it either ends abruptly or the payoff is just lame, because the movie never dares to push the envelope too much. As a result, the movie is the equivalent of a lame race horse: it can never reach the finish line, and there isn’t much use for it as a result.
This is a shame, because the cast members, especially Katherine Heigl, seem to be having a blast playing up their roles in a darkly absurd way without being too over the top. The sole exception is Patrick Wilson, who spends the entire movie sporting a singular expression best described as “shell-shocked mug that is still irritating enough to make you want to slap him a few dozen times”. He makes this movie a far more annoying experience to sit through – a different lead actor may have improved the experience considerably.
Far too timid and tame for its own good, Home Sweet Hell is never as interesting or memorable as it should have been. Oh well.