“When you’re a kid you don’t think about consequences.”
What starts out as a horny teen summer movie slowly morphs in to a cheesy throwback erotic thriller about a shy college-bound teen (played by Nick Jonas) who starts an affair with the sexy young trophy wife of a presumably bad & powerful businessman played by Dermot Mulroney. And, as you can imagine, our protagonist gets in way over his head.
If you came up watching late night ShowTime and/or Cinemax movies throughout the early to mid-90’s, then you all should be familiar with a plot like this. But cheesy erotic thrillers aren’t the only movies that Careful What You Wish For tips its hat to. Not only was I reminded of Wild Things (sexy women, femme fatales, male fantasy lipstick lesbianism, beaches, boats, double-crosses, etc) but Careful What You Wish For has the voyeuristic qualities of a Hitchcock film. No, seriously. There are quite a few scenes of Nick Jonas spying on his sexy co-star at night just like Anthony Perkins in Psycho or Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. The only problem with that is you’re much better off watching a classic Brian DePalma film over something like this if you want a good Hitchcock homage (and at least DePalma would have the courtesy of throwing in some tasteful nudity). Director Elizabeth Rosenbaum even tries to throw in a Keyser Soze/Usual Suspects-style ending. And for those of you reading this going, “C’MON, MAN! SPOILER ALERT!” – I assure you I have spoiled nothing. All you need to do is watch the trailer, read the first two sentences of this very review and/or watch the first seven minutes of Careful What You Wish For to know where this movie is going. This is a safe erotic thriller starring Nick Jonas (by safe I mean it is rated R but there’s no full frontal nudity or graphic violence even though it involves passionate sex and a gruesome murder. Had the same basic plot landed in the lap of a director like Paul Verhoeven things would be much more exciting & engaging). Young casual movie watchers and aging Jonas brothers fans are the only people this movie was made for.
The only interesting aspect about this movie is the supporting performance given by Dermot Mulroney. I could be projecting my own personal thoughts, but his performance is so phoned in that you have to kind of respect it. Sure, his character is a jaded rich older man with a younger attractive wife, but the jadedness that we see in his character takes on an additional layer as it feels like we’re watching Mulroney’s own real jaded attitude brought on by acting in this movie which he probably only did for a paycheck. Dermot Mulroney is a great actor (a staple of my childhood having acted in Young Guns and Career Opportunities) so this is in no way a criticism of him. If I was a seasoned veteran having to play 3rd billing (alongside another veteran like Paul Sorvino) to Nick Jonas & Isabel Lucas I’d definitely be a little jaded (dare I say insulted?). As I watched Mulroney deliver his antagonistic performance I could almost see inside his soul as he thought back to his performances in the films of Tom Dicillo (Jim Jarmusch’s former cinematographer and all around important figure during the American Independent renaissance of the 90’s) and, more recently, David Fincher (Zodiac) & The Coen Brothers (Burn After Reading) all while wondering what he’s doing acting in a movie like Careful What You Wish For.