DAVIS' WIFE DIES in the first few minutes of Demolition, and then Davis starts being an asshole. No, wait—he's kind of an asshole before that. In the few moments we see them together, Davis is blowing off his wife and being a smarmy, self-absorbed investment banker. Then—BOOM, CAR CRASH—Davis is a single smarmy, self-absorbed investment banker, one who's remarkably unmoved by the death of... huh. You know, she probably had a name, but that's not important. What's important is that she looks good in all of Demolition's dead wife montages.
Anyway, Dead Wife doesn't matter: All that matters is Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal) and all the ways he finds to be an asshole. He starts fucking off at work, and while for most people dealing with a family death that's not really an option, it is for Davis, because he's loaded, and because his father-in-law, Phil (Chris Cooper), owns the company. Eventually Davis just stops showing up; he trades his suits for Carhartts and starts taking things apart: light fixtures. Cappuccino machines. His fridge. He slums it with blue-collar construction workers, paying them to let him knock down walls; before long, he's casually buying a bulldozer and casually demolishing the house he shared with Dead Wife. This, apparently, this is how rich people grieve.
Well, not all rich people: Phil tries to set up a scholarship for poor kids in his daughter's memory, only to be blocked by Davis, who's more interested in hanging out with and/or trying to bone Karen (Naomi Watts) and hang out with her son Chris (Judah Lewis)—two more blue-collar people Davis decides to slum with. And kind of fuck up their lives in the process.
This isn't to say that stories about assholes can't be worthwhile, or that it can't be fun to watch somebody who doesn't have to worry about making rent take a sledgehammer to their granite countertops. It is to say that even in Demolition's myopic perspective, Davis—a thrumming black hole of oblivious privilege—is surrounded by better, more complicated, less shitty characters: Phil. Karen. Chris. Dead Wife. Any of their stories would be more interesting.