Intolerable Cruelty

Review Date:
Director: Joel Coen
Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone
Producers: Ethan Coen, Brian Grazer
George Clooney as Miles, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marylin, Cedric the Entertainer as Gus
An extremely successful divorce lawyer meets his match when he goes up against a gold-digging woman set to milk her husband of his earnings. The lawyer, who most recently started to question his own station in life, finds himself “fascinated” by the woman and slowly, but quite surely, falls for her. The woman, on her end, is also intrigued by her nemesis but can’t seem to figure much of it out. Can suspicious minds, conniving intentions and loving hearts mix? Find out as the Coen Bros do Hollywood!
I tried as hard as I could not to look at this film as a “Coen bros movie”, but goddamnit, their names are all over the place, as writers, producers, directors…yet, unlike all of their other unique projects, other people’s names are next to theirs, including a couple of screenwriters of whom I’ve never heard (that’s right, there are 4 names on the screenplay credits…always scary), as well as the name of one of the most commercial film producers out there, Mr. Grinch himself: Brian Grazer. For a man who appreciates quirkier flicks, I recoiled at the positioning of his name next to those of the great Coen brothers, but alas, I was still willing to give the film a fair shake, especially with fan fave (and JoBlo fave) George Clooney at the helm, and the very lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones looking supremely gorgeous. What I got was a surprisingly funny movie featuring, in my humble little opinion, Clooney at the top of his comedic game. I never thought this guy could ever crack me up this much (although he comes off quite humorous in interviews as well). Sure, some of the credit for that should go to the film’s hilarious one-liners, but Clooney also adds his own brand of physical comedy to the game and completely embodies his white-toothed, neurotic, fast-talking lawyer character and delivers in spades. He made this film entirely enjoyable for me all the way through because he possessed the charm, the looks, the lines and the demeanor to engage me in every single one of his scenes and there really isn’t enough that I can say about him. Cheers, my good man. Zeta-Jones is also pretty good, but honestly, didn’t have much more to do than to act like herself and look absolutely stunning in every shot (both of which she did really well) I’m not too sure about that Welsh accent of hers coming in and out of certain scenes, but then again, I ain’t her 59-year old husband, so what the shit do I know.

I was also a little concerned about the addition of the sometimes annoying Cedric the Entertainer to this movie, but he was actually pretty good at what he was required to do (“Nail ass!!”), and really wasn’t a huge part of the picture anyway. The film’s final shot, on the other hand, just didn’t “feel right”, but I suspect that was probably Grazer’s idea. The rest of the cast was also a hoot especially the underrated Richard Jenkins, who always manages to crack me up with his facial expressions alone, Billy Bob Thornton, who only had two scenes in the film, but stood out like the white in trash and Irwin Keyes, who will likely go down in history as the most memorable “wheezer” ever (damn asthmatic contraptions!) Major kudos should also go out to Clooney’s goofy buttboy, Paul Adelstein, and be sure not to blink because you will otherwise miss Bruce Campbell’s extremely small cameo as well (it always amazes me that neither Sam Raimi or the Coens don’t cast this guy more or in bigger roles…what’s up with that?) I didn’t much care for the old man in the film – felt too fake – but most everyone else was sweet. The story is also fun (the courtroom scene is particularly hilarious), somewhat reminiscent of the brilliant WAR OF THE ROSES, but definitely more fluffy, a little too long and less effective during its second half. I was cracking up in almost ever scene of the film’s first half hour or so, but its final 30 minutes, despite registering some fun twists, weren’t as tight. The film also featured a pretty unique opening sequence starring Geoffrey Rush and an original opening credit montage. As a major Coen bros’ fan, I have to say that I was a tad disappointed in the overall film, but mainly because it wasn’t as original, clever or stylish as their usual fare. Having said that, it was far better than I thought it might be (the trailers really didn’t do the film any justice) and entertained me throughout with Clooney, specifically, cracking me up. “Obscene wealth becomes you.”

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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