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Intolerable Cruelty
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Reviews & Ratings for
Intolerable Cruelty More at IMDbPro »

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Index 315 reviews in total 

Some good lines and performances, but a stinker nonetheless

Author: fleckmo from San Francisco, CA
13 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The idea is a classic: Two ruthless competitors who don't believe in love face off, meet their match, and fall in love. The updated setting in contemporary divorce court is perfect. The stars are gorgeous and perform well, and most of the dialog is snappy. The sound track is good, and there are some great site gags.

So why did this feel like a waste of time?

For one thing, there's not much structure. There is setup after setup, and after a while, the payoffs tail off. It's the law of diminishing returns.

SPOILERS AHEAD***********

The last half of the movie veers into "zany" slapstick that is either laid on too thick or completely predictable. Our first encounter with Edward Herrmann's railroad fetish is funny, but the next one is an over-inflated balloon with the air let out. Maybe the directors were trying to really hammer home the point that having too much of what you want is, uh, too much.

Now get this - there's a hired killer named Wheezy Joe - with asthma! That's funny? And who didn't know that Clooney and his sidekick were going to, oh my gosh, mace each other?

It's hard for me to even remember how the movie ends. The opening credits are so creative and promising... it's too bad what follows doesn't deliver.

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An exercise in self-indulgence with One Great Joke

6/10
Author: rolo_tomassey from Norwalk, CT
13 October 2003



This is film is just 'better than mediocre'. It's light and occasionally fun, with some good acting by Jones and Clooney (who dominate with lots & lots of screen time). While they are pleasant to look at and do possess good chemistry, the film places too much stock in their visual appeal, and consequently falls a little short on content.

The film does succeed in mocking the divorce system and the ever-present prenuptial agreement, but on some level it also seems to attack the institution of marriage itself. The protagonist is a clever and cunning 'gold digger' that blatantly abuses the system for her own financial gain.

While there is one very funny scene toward the end (no spoilers here!), but overall I left the theater wanting more humor or just to be more AFFECTED.

If you're an avid fan of Jones or Clooney and/or you're seeking a film that doesn't engage you emotionally, this one's for you.

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A Delightful Romantic Comedy

8/10
Author: tabuno from utah
12 October 2003

This is one of the most funniest movies of the year with a zesty and zany acting roles for George Clooney along with the cool and mysterious Catherine Zeta-Jones. The chemistry between the two is so succulent and moist that as the audience, you just want to eat it up. That is so brilliant about this movie is the acting, the silent expressions and behavior in addition to the dialogue and how Clooney and Zeta-Jones make magic together on screen. This comedic riot is compelling and enjoyable and the audience really feeling the humor and the emotional up and downs, the ins and outs of this twisting, subplotting script that kept the movie-goers wanting more. A great romantic treat, this movie was just perfect for the cool autumn movie season with its cheery fun and high-minded tinge of poetic irony and backstabbing. Eight out of Ten Stars.

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worth the price of a matinee

6/10
Author: Dub from Texas
12 October 2003

Well, not a great movie but certainly entertaining. The movie's tricks are well known but tolerable. A few laughable moments with the best work being done by the cameo actors. Of course the standup looks of the leading actors are worth a view.

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Not as Good as their previous films but close enough.

7/10
Author: afterhush from A world Traveler
12 October 2003

Intolerable Cruelty is by no means Joe and Ethan Coen best effort but it still has their trade mark stamp of eccentricity. George Clooney is fine as Miles Massey, a divorce attorney who is very good at his job but is smitten with a former client wife played equally as good by Catherine Zeta Jones who is out to take him for all he is worth. Edward Herrmann Is also very good as Clooney's client and Jones Ex husband. Like all romantic comedies, they do fall in love, but like all Coen Brothers film, nothing is as strait forward as they seem. On their path to romance, there are other men, more dirty dealings, and a death scene that has to be seen to believe.

The problem I had with the movie is that it does lack a considerable amount of charm that the Coen Brothers other movies had in spades. O Brother Where Art Tho? Is a prime example of this because it had a true sense of charm with the far out plot that was with it. This film is more mean spirited in certain areas than it needs to be but it does retain some sense of balance between itself and the subject matter at hand.

Despite this, this is another good film by the Coen Brothers, and I being a fan of their work, can't wait for their next collaboration.

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I would have kept the prenup!

6/10
Author: Ida Kern (Ida-2) from Baltimore
12 October 2003

The plot was fun. A beautiful woman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) marries a known philanderer because she knows she will catch him cheating later and then be able to divorce him and take all of his money. George Clooney stars as a bored divorce lawyer who represents the husband and he manages to win the case, even with all the evidence she has gathered against the husband.

The problem is, he falls in love with his client's ex-wife. Meanwhile, she is plotting to get even with him for leaving her penniless. The ensuing twists and turns between the two are hilarious as you discover just how scheming she is.

No Oscar winners here but it's a cute movie to while away the afternoon watching.

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barely tolerable

Author: (strus2001@yahoo.com) from grand rapids, mi
12 October 2003

Coen brother movies have consistently recognizable patterns;

1) Characters who are actually caricatures and are played to the hilt, over the top, really. Nicholas Cage as a reckless white-trash father in "Raising Arizona," John Turturro as a nervous, sweaty, blocked, screenwriter in "Barton Fink," Charles Durning as a corpulent, corrupt, southern pol in "Oh Brother where art thou." That is just a sample. The list could be a lot longer. 2) An individual somewhere in the plot who has a lot of power and money and is no afraid to coeerce others to do his will. Often a minor role. 3) A scene of unexpected violence, usually point-blank execution.

"Intolerable Cruelty" contains all these elements. George Clooney is a California divorce attorney, using his God-given good looks and charm to advance the interests of his wealthy clients. Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of those well-chiseled, perfectly dressed and groomed females who has made being a trophy-wife a highly paid professtion. They are both grifters; he uses the law, and she uses men who are intoxicated by her obvious assets to get very rich with very little effort. Clooney's character thinks he is above all the chicanery, but falls hard for Marilyn, and that is where all the trouble starts. The entire movie is mostly devoted to the attack and counterattacks, the give and take of these two sad souls.

The tone is black comedy, which will stoop to any depth for humor. Outside of a few isolated scenes, though, it just simply wasn't that funny. I couldn't understand the attraction. Why would a character like Miles Massey, smart, educated, and obviously well-experienced in the pitfalls of a hastily pursued marriage do precisely that? And with a woman who is demonstrably as mercenary as they come? Are there no available women of high integrity anywhere in California for this man?

The only scenes that worked well are the small cameos that locked into your memory. Jonathan Hadary as a courtroom witness of undetermined national origin and sexual orientation. Julia Duffy as Marilyn's best friend and mentor in the marriage for money business. My favorite is Tom Aldredge as a decrepit, dying, IV'd, ventilated, oxygenated, head of George Clooney's law firm. He appears twice as in a nightmarish sequence, totally rattling the cocky Miles Massey. The second scene is the highlight of the movie.

As a total package it doesn't work. I think the main problem was that there were no characters I could actually feel any affection or sympathy for. Humor doesn't work when there isn't any emotion attatched to the humorous situation. My motivation as an audience member was that I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with these people.

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A waste of talent

Author: deranian-1 from schaumburg, illinois
12 October 2003

After reading some of the reviews I looked forward to seeing this film described as "a screwball comedy" in the tradition of Gable, Cary Grant, Carole Lombard and others. After seeing the film the new definition of screwball comedy means a film lacking in laughs. What fails here is the script; no wit, no verbal forays. What I do not understand is what happened. The basic idea is great and must have wowed in the story conference. The talent is there: Clooney, Zeta-Jones, Rush and directed by Joel Coen. But whoever did the script and whoever approved the script let the side down. Clooney was cast for this role but his talent cannot save it. No edge to the character of Miles Massey (great name)in the style of "Out of Sight". Too bad.

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Killer Asthma

7/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
12 October 2003

Greetings again from the darkness. The downside to creating a classic film like "Fargo" is that everything one does after that will be compared. "O'Brother Where Art Thou" was remarkable in its own right, but this Coen Brothers feature falls a bit short. Their humor resonates, but its just not quite as biting in "Cruelty". Enjoyed George Clooney's obsession with his teeth (as opposed to his hair in "Brother"), and the whole Wheezy Joe segment is pure Coen. Overall too many flat scenes, especially those with Clooney's right hand man and those with veteran actor Richard Jenkins. Both seemed out of place and uncomfortable with the material. Billy Bob Thornton, on the other hand, brought the film to life in his few scenes and Tom Aldredge (Hugh DeAngelis from "The Sopranos") did the same. Clooney and Zeta-Jones had sufficient chemistry together, but for the only the second time ("Raising Arizona" was the first) I don't believe the Coen's delivered the goods in the script. Definitely worth seeing, but not a Coen classic. Looking forward to "The Ladykillers" next year!

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Coens

5/10
Author: joblowfish
12 October 2003

Had expected the Coen brothers to have a significantly higher lowest common denominator. Zeta-Jones is per usual wonderful to gaze upon but Clooney is better suited to ER than attempted comedy. (For clinical as well as non-medical roles though he has quite good looking hands.)

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