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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Someone should have told the writer-director(s) that Catherine
Zeta-Jones is incapable of being cool. As brothers, they should have
told each other that the production stank, as must have been evident
from the read-through. The casting is is bad as the script which is
very bad. Over-the-top acting decorates the whole mess, Clooney may
have got away with it in 'O Brother
', but miscasting like that seldom
works more than once for anyone, and besides, he was then acting lines
inside real Coensworld.
Bad timing, overlong scenes, no sympathetic main character. You want George and Z-J to end up together, but only inasmuch as then the movie might fade to credits. Incidentally there are times you fear it never will. I'd have switched off at several points, but I couldn't believe they could complete this project without at least one saving grace, well, they couldn't, Billy Bob Thornton comes along to save them just one point as far as I'm concerned. Carter Burwell's beautiful music is desperately out of place. The script is littered with pretentious quotations, as if to remind us that Joel and Ethan did rather well at college. (Did they)? It pains me to write this, as I have championed these two since 'Blood Simple', but it really is a very bad exercise in wastage of studio funds.
I paused for a moment to catch my breath, (badly required so that I might deflate my expectations a little more scene by scene), and momentarily I imagined Melanie Griffith and Kevin Spacey doing this movie. It would perhaps have been better, but oh, those lines would not have improved their prospects for another job!
Even when not playing a bitch, Zeta-Jones exudes heartless shallowness, (evidence: 'The Terminal'), and it seems plain that apart from the initial promise shown in 'The Darling Buds of May', that's all she had. As actor after actor attempts to portray emotional attachment it feels more and more cringworthy. Even the dependable actors are unable to build with such insipid mortar. Nothing hangs together, then here comes Burwell again, calling passionate musical themes reminiscent of Miller's Crossing into scenes devoid of any pulse. I feel in this association he has devalued his own work, is it possible he can turn his beautiful music out at the drop of a bad line without the prime mover of a good, connecting human story? Did he even see the film before writing the original score?
Some Sample dialogue, and believe me, the Coens take credit for this: "You must leave the house because I left the gas main on that leaks", honestly, it's there in the movie, then "Whatever they're paying you, I'll pay you double". It goes on and on and on and on forever and eventually dissolves into slapstick like DeNiro doing a bad Jim Carry part. How can you have so many good ingredients and still spoil the dinner? Did Joel and Ethan really see 'Out of Sight' and 'War of the Roses' in the same week and gamble they could just join the two together with a bad glue-job? It takes more than that, at least a hint of screen chemistry. Unbearably bad, intolerable cruelty. O brothers . Shame on you.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was really expecting something here. Well, good actors are always
nice, but WHERE WAS THE PLOT? Make love, not war, was that it? Really a
predictable film, I was expecting to be surprised, but it had the depth
of a Donald Duck story.
I am truly disappointed. Watching it is a way to spend some time, if you have nothing better to do, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone.
There were moments, where the film was being close to be funny, but they drowned in boredom.
The title of the film is what is happening to the viewer. It is intolerable cruelty to have to watch it all! Especially when there is no plot, at least, not an unpredictable one.
Knowing that the Cohen Brothers have made other films, which are fun to watch, this film really stands out as a disappointment - the script could have been written by a high-school student (maybe it was).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Joel Coen's latest attempts at comedy have not been too exciting. I
watched this film in DVD format since the original release didn't last
too long and when I tried to see it, it had departed from the local
screens. It was a shame because any Coen picture is worth seeing.
This comedy was highly enjoyable because of George Clooney. His take on Miles Massey, the reptilian lawyer he plays, is one of the best things he has done in a while. Mr. Clooney should engage more in lighter roles, such as this, because it appears he is a natural for playing these eccentric types, where he excels.
Miles is a tough divorce lawyer who will stop at nothing to get his male clients to get rid of nasty situations and demanding former wives, until he meets a beautiful creature named Marilyn. She proves to be his downfall. Catherine Zeta-Jones is perfect as this gold digger in search of riches.
Marilyn is left with nothing when she divorces Rex, but that defeat she will turn into a triumph at a later date. Marilyn is calculating and nasty; she wants to get all she can from all these rich husbands and live a life of luxury in L.A. L.A. Land.
This movie has a lot of funny moments. A lot of good performers appear briefly in the movie. Geoffrey Rush is enjoyable as Donovan who suffers his own nasty divorce. Edward Herrmann is equally effective as Rex, Marilyn's naughty husband. Also, Cedric the Entertainer has a couple of good scenes where he is hilarious. The only one that doesn't get to do a whole lot is Billy Bob Thurnton, who is totally wasted as the fake husband Howard.
Ultimately the film belongs to George Clooney. It was a pleasure watching him being the object of Marilyn's own revenge, only to find out at the end that she couldn't resist him at all.
Imagine yourself and the misses going to a restaurant where after
ordering, the waiter will personally force-feed the ordered dish to you
with a rusty spoon, at gunpoint.
That pretty much is the experience you get watching Intolerable Clooneyty. The clownesque prefabricated hurls of laughter are being shoved down your throat at a punchline-per-second rate. Ultimately giving u little time to think about what you are watching which may well be its incentive to cover up the naked emperor standing in front of u, shamelessly waving his procreational tools in your face.
Talk about restaurants, take in mind the scene with Clooney and Jones exchanging the one-liners as if it was a ping-pong game which, like with all games, in the end will also have a loser ..why do that? Why deliberately have a flaw on your hands ? I would have granted Jones the siege, but it was Clooney, good for him. Too bad it made Jones look like she couldn't act. Not that that's true, or is it? I'm not sure anymore.
Shortly after that we have the discomforting, Giles de la Tourette inspired, one-liners contest in the courtroom. Supposedly funny but painstakingly embarrassing with perhaps the most corny word-joke in the history of film-making. The list really just goes on and on.
Clooney, Jones and a score of familiar others in the acting business go out of their way to make complete fools of themselves in yet another meager tale screenplayed and directed by the Coen Brothers. Movies of Batman are less cartoonesqeu than the joke which is Intolerable Cruelty. And where was leslie Nielsen to push the queen of England of the stairway?
Of what I don't know, but this was a parody I hope? In any case it only pushed itself as far as embarrassment goes. The only laugh I had during this mockery was the scene where Clooney opened up a magazine, apparently containing indecently exposed senior naturalists, turning two pages 90 degrees to show a full blown close up playboy-style. That really did it for me...
Truly abysmal, neither Jones nor Clooney had any business being in this movie, and this movie had no business being on my screen.
George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones anchor a strong cast, but ultimately only elevate this film to B-grade. The tone of the storytelling jumps from real to screwball, as if a smart version and a stupid version of the story were filmed at the same time and then edited together at random. George Clooney in Las Vegas; what a novel concept. And Catherine Zeta-Jones married to someone a quarter-century older stretches credibility a bit (no, wait, perhaps that is plausible). For an optimal viewing experience, watch this movie somewhere in the middle of your Coen Brothers movie marathon. Also recommended: popcorn and a beverage, a mid-movie intermission, or some other mild distractions to break up the slightly bloated 100 minute running time.
The Coen brothers have always been something of an acquired taste.
Their comedies never feel like conventional comedies and their dramas
always have an indiscernible quirk to them that is hard to pinpoint. It
would appear their forte is more cult comedies with the popularity of
their films The Big Lebowski and Raising Arizona. I only fuel this
statement by the evidence that their film Intolerable Cruelty is an
under-nourishing exercise in dramatic filmmaking that features great
screen presences chewing scenery and taking in the luxurious set
designs they've been placed in.
Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a top divorce attorney who agrees to take Rex Rexroth's (Edward Herrmann) case, which involves him cheating on his wife Marylin (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Marylin married Rex solely for his wealth and financial stability, so her plan is obviously to take him for all he's worth in this case. However, she is informed that Miles is an amazing attorney who is greatly feared in the field. When she winds up losing her case, she makes Miles as smitten as she possibly can with her smile, curvaceous body, and audacious beauty so that she can do the same for him. But Miles is smarter to fall for that, isn't he? The twist that is employed within the storyline of Intolerable Cruelty is that those who hold the notion t-hey are smart are the dumbest when put on the spot. And yet, this is a facile justification/moral for this kind of a story. The toneless monotony of the film further obscures this notion. It's difficult to recall a more boring, uninteresting setup that pairs some of the most likable actors of this generation.
George Clooney is one the most attractive and likable leading men in cinema as we know it. He has a smile that has the warmth and depth of not an actor but a top executive or outgoing business man. Catherine Zeta-Jones basks in this same sort of charisma and charm in her acting chops and creates the brewing sense of lust and attraction in her male followers much like Clooney does in his female ones. These two are an incredible screen duo criminally underutilized in this formula. Underutilized in the sense that they are given a story with no direction or particular genre in mind.
The talent here feels submissive to the mediocrity of the Coen brothers' screenplay, which has something of a tonal crisis. The Coens struggle through discovering whether black comedy, screwball comedy, or courtroom drama is the proper way to carry out this story. What we get is a marginally convincing, lukewarm hybrid between several genres we know the Coens can make fun and in-depth but for some reason do not in this case.
Some films are good for reasons that are not elaborate or as deep as others. The same goes for lesser films or simply bad ones. Intolerable Cruelty suffers from the fact that the material isn't that interesting, the characters are stuffy and vanilla, and the directions taken by the Coens do nothing but make a relatively unengaging, forgettable picture.
Perhaps you're a big fan of the brothers Coen and you enjoy this film. Before settling on the idea that the performances are good and the humor is wry and funny, justify your favorable reactions towards it. Think if the Coens had been opted out for a random, aspiring filmmaker and the actors taken several steps down from Clooney and Zeta-Jones to indie-stars like Kentucker Audley and Lake Bell, would your reaction still be as strong?
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Edward Herrmann. Directed by: Joel Coen.
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love George Clooney, and Catherine Zeta Jones is cool too, but I find
it hard to know where to start with this film. Its vulgar pursuit of
comedy seems to be at the expense of decency and human feeling. Witness
the mind-boggling depiction of Clooney's boss as a man on permanent
life support, wheezing and coughing. Neither Clooney nor Zeta Jones
shows much interest in acting, mannerisms proving sufficient. The
script is lazy, disjointed and highly unedifying. Production values of
all sorts seem to have gone out of the window in a feeble belief that a
bit of zaniness makes up for character development and plot. I left
this film with a bad taste in my mouth and a hatred of America's legal
system, at least in so far as it impacts upon the divorces of wealthy
people, which is sort of what this film is about.
Wasn't worth the 3 dollars I paid for the DVD, to be quite honest.
"Intolerable Cruelty" (2003) is a mildly pleasing film which suffers from a
lack of creative clarity. The Coen brothers do not know what they want their
film to be: Is it a glossy romance in the inimitable style of the 1930s and
1950s? Is it yet another feather-weight film in that clichéd Battle of the
Sexes genre or is it secretly a black comedy from the usual Coen formula?
Unfortunately, the film fails in all of these categories and must be taken
just as it is: a muddled final product often scant on humor.
The overall premise is intriguing: a skilled divorce lawyer, Miles Massey (George Clooney), falls in love for an out-and-out gold digger, Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who seems incapable of true love. The viewer spends most of his/her time waiting for hilarious moments which rarely materialize.
In terms of acting, George Clooney almost carries the film entirely with his excellent smarmy performance, but fails to do so because of Catherine Zeta-Jones. Clooney has a kinetic personal energy which radiates onscreen and requires an equally compelling member of the opposite sex to match it. Unfortunately, throughout the film Zeta-Jones, who gave excellent performances in "The Mask of Zorro" and "Traffic," literally seems to be on auto-pilot. She lacks her usual spark and, in the end, it utterly sinks the film. She needed to be more lively and engaging. On a side note, Cedric the Entertainer nearly steals the film out from under both stars as the enthusiastic Gus Petch, a smut-digging detective with a disturbing affinity for his work.
Now, it is clear that the Coen brothers planned that this film be in homage to the comedic classics of the golden years of studio cinema. The key problem is that the Coen brothers lack the world-weary, sardonic humor of an Ernst Lubitsch, a Preston Sturges or a Billy Wilder. As a result, we have instead what seems to be a Down syndrome clone of a 1950s Doris Day film. Realistically speaking, the Coen brothers aimed for an unattainable goal: it is well-nigh impossible to mimic the comedic studio gems of the 1930s. Those unique films were created in a bipartisan age when one half of society dwelled in abject poverty only to glimpse the sophisticated lifestyle of the upper-class through a camera lens: of elegance and wit; of style over substance: a forgotten era in which gentlemen and ladies were well-mannered, well-manicured, well-groomed, well-dressed and engaged in a bourgeois self-indulgence that bordered on fairytale decadence. Our own era of T-shirts, sweat pants and factory-made Nike sneakers is putrid in comparison. Nothing of that bygone era, including its legendary films, can ever be duplicated. It is a pity the Coen brothers even attempted to do so.
In summary, "Intolerable Cruelty" is an insipid disappointment. You walk away slightly amused, but not feeling that vague, hard-to-put-your-finger-on "soul cleansing" sensation which many top-notch comedies leave in their wake.
I saw this film after delaying for months due to poor reviews by critics and
people on IMDb. I'm sorry I delayed, no matter how you rank the films, the
Coen Brothers can never go wrong.
Sure it doesn't have as many gags as their previous films, there isn't a hoard of eccentric characters and the camera doesn't take on as much an obvious role in the film. But if you can pay attention you will actually find yourself laughing hysterically all throughout.
It's not slapstick, it's a dark, comedic take on a subject that is taboo with the majority of the population. If you want something with the same premise but tries too hard to be funny go rent "Heartbreakers" with Jennifer Love Hewitt.
But I would advise you to rent this film, and if you already have but didn't like it, rent it again, pay attention, look at the subtleties and laugh, dangit!
I give this film a 31/2 out of 4 Stars!
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