Simple Very Bad Plans

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(CBS) New genre alert!
Make room for a new movie parable. In it, a group of common everyday Joes sets out to commit only the most minor of illegal infractions - say, some recreational drug use or a little pocketing of found millions. Said situation then snowballs, rolling our average guys into a life of deception, cover-ups, and, of course, multiple murder.

Two movies now showing fall into this category: A Simple Plan, starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda; and Very Bad Things, starring Christian Slater, Daniel Stern, Jon Favreau, and Cameron Diaz.

So different they are - A Simple Plan leans toward Oscar-worthy with a twist of Coen Brothers while Very Bad Things mimics the Quentin Tarantino thing - and yet, so much the same.

Plan's Bill Paxton told, "I think Hollywood is possibly realizing that tragedies are just as valid as other movies. There's room for these stories. I don't know if it's a trend or not." Adds costar Billy Bob Thornton, "This may sound a little heady, but in order to heal yourself of anything you have to go to a really dark place to do it. . .Sometimes, I think it works for you to see a tragedy. It causes you to examine your life a little bit." Click here for audio

Here are some of the quite similar dark places visited in A Simple Plan and Very Bad Things.


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The Snow Factor

Lots of snow on the ground hides a crashed airplane filled with over $4 million in cash.

Lots of snow up their noses makes a bunch of guys act irrational, violent, and manslaughter-prone.

Death and the great outdoors:

In the desolation of the snow-covered woods, our anti-heroes find a dead person in a crashed plane.

In the desolation of the sand-covered desert, our anti-heroes bury two dead dismembered people.

Brotherly. . .love?

The chaotic chain of events causes friction between 2 brothers. Ultimately, 1 must kill the other.

The chaotic chain of events tears apart 2 brothers. Ultimately, 1 accidentally kills the other.

Staged crimes of passion:

To keep them from revealing what they know, a wife and husband are murdered, then made to look like they did it to themselves.

To keep them from revealing what they know, a woman and her brother-in-law are murdered, then made to look like they did it to themselves.

A wife does a surprise turnaround:

Bridget Fonda tells her husband she would never want to keep possibly tainted money, no matter how much, until she learns her husband really found some.

Cameron Diaz wants nothing more than the perfect wedding, until she starts dabbling in murder.

Return to the scene of the crime:

In an effort to ward off possible suspicion, Bridget Fonda urges husband Bill Paxton to go back to the crashed plane and return some money.

In an effort to ward off possible suspicion, Cameron Diaz urges husband Jon Favreau to return to the desert and kill a witness.

Tale of the sound byte:

Of A Simple Plan, Bill Paxton tells . .
Click here for audio

Of Very Bad Things, Christian Slater tells CBS This Morning. . .
Click here for video

1 degree of separation:

In 1995, Bill Paxton starred in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon./TD>

In 1995, Christian Slater starred in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon.

By Rob Medich for>

Photos: Paramount Pictures and Polygram Films

Copyright 1998 CBS Worldwide Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.