Intolerable Cruelty

"Good"

Intolerable Cruelty Review


How can you not love the Coen brothers? The sibling creators of some of cinema's most classic films -- Fargo, Blood Simple, O Brother, Where Art Thou? -- are back at it, this time with their strangest production yet.

Oh, I don't mean strange as in Raising Arizona strange. I mean strange in that it's dearthly lacking the sophisticated humor we've come to expect from the duo. Strange in that it's so Hollywood-conventional as to make its existence puzzling at best, unnecessary at worst.

But we'll get to that.

In Intolerable Cruelty, the Coens return to the unique oddity that is southern California for the first time since the The Big Lebowski. This time they aren't skewering Hollywood proper, though, they're pillorying So-Cal morality (or lack thereof) when it comes to relationships.

Our protagonists are Miles Massey (George Clooney), a high-power divorce attorney who's never found a woman who could keep up with him, and Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones, the spitting image of Monica Bellucci here), at first Miles' adversary in a divorce case and quickly after the object of his desires. What develops is a cat and mouse game: Miles wants Marylin. Marylin wants money. Will they hook up or will they simply tear each other to shreds?

It's a cute setup -- though "cute" and "Coen brothers" should not really be spoken together -- but it's unfortunately too slight to make much of an impact. The cat-and-mousing has all of one plot twist in store for us. The remainder of the film hinges on Clooney and Zeta-Jones' banter, because the story itself is barely there. The pair have substantial chemistry together, but that doesn't come close to making the movie on its own. They toy with each other in a series of lighthearted and simple gags -- almost con games -- culminating in a vicious battle reminiscent of The War of the Roses. It's absurd, but it's not Coen-absurd, it's sitcom-absurd -- frivolous and silly but often fun, despite its appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Stealing the show are Cedric The Entertainer as a self-described "ass nailer" (read: private eye) and Paul Adelstein as one of Miles' law associates. Cedric is as in-your-face as Adelstein is reserved and nebbish; the dichotomy of having them both in the same movie is hysterical. Edward Herrmann is equally funny as the naïve, oblivious, and embarrassingly horny first husband of Marylin.

At its heart, Intolerable Cruelty is as unlikely a Coen brothers movie as you could get, turning out to be little more than a straight romantic comedy. Give the same script to Nora Ephron and the end result probably wouldn't have been much different.

In fact, the Intolerable Cruelty script is a real oddity in the history of Coen brothers movies. Credited to Joel and Ethan Coen as well as the writing team of Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone (who wrote some of the biggest dogs of the 1990s, including Destiny Turns on the Radio and Life), it's the brothers' first collaborative script since 1994's The Hudsucker Proxy, when Sam Raimi pitched in.

The result is that the film is left with just a trace of that indescribable weirdness that Coen brothers movies have. The only piece of Intolerable Cruelty that makes it distinctly Coenized is the fact that there's a crazy old man in the flick. Come on, you guys can do better than that.

Intolerably sweet.



Intolerable Cruelty

Facts and Figures

Run time: 100 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th October 2003

Box Office USA: $35.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $119.9M

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Mike Zoss Productions, Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Alphaville Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 135 Rotten: 45

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Miles Massey, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marilyn Rexroth, as Rex Rexroth, as Donovan Donaly, as Freddy Bender, as Howard D. Doyle, as Bonnie Donaly, as Gus Petch, as Wrigley, as Sarah Sorkin, as Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy, Tom Aldredge as Herb Myerson, as Ollie Olerud, as Wheezy Joe, Judith Drake as Mrs. Gutman, George Ives as Mrs. Gutman's Lawyer

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.