clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Movie Review:

"Intolerable Cruelty"

If you are a fan of the Coen brothers ("Fargo", "Oh Brother Where Art Thou"), you are probably really looking forward to this film, which I would characterize as their first foray into true "commercial" filmdom, with two big stars (George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones).

The plot seems pretty basic, and almost seems like it's been done many times before. Clooney plays a divorce attorney with a reputation of winning impossible cases for his clients, and his "Pre-Nup" (named after his character, Miles Massey, who is a legend among divorce attorneys; he addresses conventions of such people, for example), is supposedly "impenetrable".

Then he meets Marilyn Rexroth (Zeta-Jones) -- she has a couple of other names, too, acquired by marriages to various men who she has left out to dry; she hangs out with other wealthy women who make sport of this. But Massey wins the case for Marilyn's husband and leaves her penniless.

That's where the fun starts, you see, because in the inevitable plot twist, Massey falls in love with Marilyn, who, in best starlet style, is dressed in various types of tight clothing.

You'll think at first this is a romance; but then it turns into a screwball comedy, and has a bit of thriller elements thrown it, and there are some hilarious characters (pay close attention especially to Jonathan Hadary, who plays a ridiculously gay concierge; Cedric the Entertainer, a private investigator, and Billy Bob Thornton, who is not what he seems at first).

About three-quarters of the way through, I thought the film totally lost its way, and you'll see why, but it redeems itself with the plot twists. I won't ruin the ending for you, but of course you'll leave smiling.

You'll also laugh at relative unknown Paul Adelstein, who plays "Wrigley" (and no, I don't think that has anything to do with the Cubs!), Massey's very sensitive assistant, and Geoffrey Rush is almost unrecognizable, but funny, as one of the first ex-husbands that Massey gets to, and you also find him at the center of one of the final plot twists.

This isn't one of the deepest films ever, nor is it even one of the best Coen brothers films. But it did make me laugh, and for an evening's entertainment, what more can you ask for?

AYRating: ***