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

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

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.