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The film starts with featuring Will Randall (Nicholson), the aging managing editor of an influential publishing house. His skills have somewhat diminished with age and his disloyal protege Stewart Swinton (James Spader), has taken full advantage. Their employer, tycoon Raymond Alden (Christopher Plummer), announces Randall's demotion in favor of Swinton. While Mrs. Charlotte Randall (Kate Nelligan) has started an affair with said new managing editor.
However, Randall's life seems to be about to change for the better. A chance encounter with a lone wolf on a snowy country road of Vermont results in a single small bite on Randall's arm. Gradually, he becomes rejuvenated, revitalized, and more aggressive. Allowing him to outperform Swinton and get his job back. His sexual appetite has also increased and he seems to have a mutual attraction with Laura Alden (Pfeiffer), world-weary daughter to his boss. His new superhuman senses of sight and smell are part bewildering and part fascinating.
But then our hero discovers himself taking animal characteristics and spending nights hunting deers in nearby forests. Waking up at morning with hazy memory of the night's activities but plenty of blood on his hands to give him a hint. Randall finally realizes what is going on. He is becoming a werewolf...and the process has just begun. Worse, he is not certain he hasn't been spreading his condition to others.
- Black Sheep: Laura to her family. Pfeiffer said it best in an interview. "Laura has always been the outcast, the black sheep within her family," ... "And I think that the wildness within her is attracted to the newfound wildness in Will."
- Eyes of Gold: In the film, yellow eyes are a sign that a character is turning into a werewolf.
- False Soulmate: Charlotte to Will. Because he separates from her after he discovers she's been cheating on him, but before she gets killed by Stewart, whom she's been having the affairs with.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Ross? What are you doing in that cop suit?
- Like a God to Me: Roy to Will, when Will pulls off a spectacular bluff.
- Mugging the Monster: A trio of hoodlums attempt to "borrow" money from Will, this proves to be a mistake, they probably would've had more luck during the day time.
- Nobody Poops: Averted. Jack Nicholson's character Will Randall and James Spader's character Stewart Swinton are using the urinals together. Randall (who is becoming a werewolf) pees on Swinton's shoes and says, "I'm just marking my territory, and you got in my way."
- Not Quite Back to Normal: By the finale, Laura has yet to notice some physical changes on herself. Thinking everything has gone back to normal.
- Not Hyperbole: Averted at the end by Stewart, when he has fun with the guard.
Stewart: My business is pleasure, Georges. Does she look like the fuck of a decade or what ?
- Super Senses: Nocturnal vision, superhuman sense of smell
- The Nose Knows: Among the first indications of the transformation.
- The Virus: Lycanthropy spreads like this in this film. He accidentally infects Stewart Swinton, who becomes a homicidal werewolf. By the end of the film, there is a close-up of Laura's face fading into dark. Demonstrating lupine eyes and indicating her transformation has begun.
- Wolf Man: Jack transforms into this at first, transforming into a full werewolf in the finale. It's indicated that those who undergo a complete change become full wolves, although they seem to have human intelligence.
- Your Cheating Heart: Charlotte cheats on Jack, Jack falls for Laura, though the marriage probably had gone stale. Well, Jack did turn to his wife first with his renewed sexual energy but he quickly found he didn't like cheaters.
- You Sexy Beast: Jack Nicholson's cuckolded and emasculated newspaper editor gets bitten by a werewolf and becomes more self-confident and sexually aggressive as he turns.