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Intolerable Cruelty
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Intolerable Cruelty More at IMDbPro »

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1 Reason to See this movie

5/10
Author: B RUBBLE from Thornton, Colorado
17 November 2003

Main reason to see this movie is to watch the beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones; otherwise, not worth the time or money to go to the movie theater. Better to wait until it comes out on video. Certainly lacked the charisma and inventiveness of "Fargo".

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Very funny and enjoyable.

8/10
Author: Roanka from Thomaston, CT
15 November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I found this film, while short, to have many funny parts. The entire audience was laughing throughout the film. It is not the Coen brothers' best film, but it is still better than the vast majority of films out there. **MINOR SPOILER** The scene where Wheezy Joe met his end was hilarious! I could not stop laughing, and I wasn't the only one. The entire theatre was in hysterics for at least a full minute after that! 8/10

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Light, Fun humor!

Author: the_insainiak from Brisbane, Australia
9 November 2003

Sometimes I like to watch a good Romantic comedy. I never thought I would see one I liked.But, almost every film I have seen in the past few months has had the trailer on the front of it. I decided to see what it was really like. I actually enjoyed it. I wont go on and on about the fun story, good acting and funny moments, but I guess those who have seen it would know what it is like. You really have to see it for yourself to make your mind up. Good for a bit of light fun humor.

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Not classic Coen Bros., but good (***)

7/10
Author: Jason Alley (samurai1978@aol.com) from Sacramento
9 November 2003

A movie from the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan) is almost always a safe bet. They've made some of my very favorite movies, chief among them "Raising Arizona", "The Big Lebowski", "Fargo", and "The Hudsucker Proxy".

"Intolerable Cruelty" isn't anywhere near the quality of those films, but it's a relatively nice trip to Coen-land, with all the quirky, verbose characters and surreal screwball comedy we've come to expect from them.

George Clooney (who also starred in the Coen Brothers' "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", which was of about equal quality) stars as Miles Massey, a slick divorce lawyer who gets in over his head with an ice-cold gold digger named Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones, who looks like the most beautiful woman who has ever lived here) who is divorcing her husband (Edward Herrmann).

The story takes lots of silly twists from there on, flip-flopping between screwball farce and romance. There are some dead spots (more than I'd like) and the rhythm seems off some of the time, but there are enough parts that are funny, romantic, and surprisingly even touching, that it emerges as a movie worth watching.

The biggest asset "Intolerable Cruelty" has is its expert pairing of Clooney and Zeta-Jones. To say they have great chemistry is a huge understatement. You can feel the heat between them in every scene they're together.

There is also a typically awesome Carter Burwell score and fun appearances by Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric The Entertainer, and Geoffrey Rush.

It doesn't belong in the upper echelon of Coen Brothers movies, but it was fun and definitely not a waste of money.

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Coen Bros Lite

Author: Philby-3 from Sydney, Australia
8 November 2003

The Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan, have established themselves as makers of seriously bent satirical comedies of which the high point was the sublime 'Fargo.' More recently their output has veered towards the safely conventional but with enough idiosyncrasies to maintain some interest, as in 'O Brother Where Art Thou'. Here they have really toned things down, though a few satirical edges remain. The movie is recognizably Coen, but very much Coen Lite.

George Clooney plays Miles Massey, a LA divorce lawyer with the whitest, brightest teeth and sharpest pre-nuptual agreement in town. He falls for Marilyn Rexroth, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones who he meets while acting for her wealthy husband Ed, who has a weakness for playing trains with nubile young ladies. She is a lady who has made taking absurdly wealthy husbands to the cleaners into an art form. 'Are you a carnivore' Miles politely enquires over lunch. 'Oh Mr Massey you have no idea, she purrs.

As this is a romantic comedy, even if directed by the Coens, we know they are going to get together in the end, and they do so via some moderately wacky courtroom scenes Counsel: 'Your honor, he's strangling the witness' Judge: 'I'll allow it.' There is also a convention trip to Las Vegas, a place almost beyond satire, and a suitably bizarre Scottish-themed wedding. The famous Massey pre-nup is made to play the part of a Hitchcockian McGuffin (something the characters think is important to the plot but doesn't really matter a damn).

George is perfect for this role. His Miles is handsome, vain and addicted to action, and is a perfect victim for Marilyn, but at the same time he is not without a critical faculty so his humbling is not made to appear too easy. Catherine Z-J as Marilyn doesn't have to do a lot except utter enigmatic phrases and pout a lot; she carries the role off OK-some more enthusiasm might have helped. She's come a long way since British TV's 'Darling Buds of May' but the fresh sexuality of those days is now looking rather tired. There is a hero's best friend with some funny moments, Geoffery Rush as a rather probable Australian TV producer and Billy Bob Thornton does a good number as one of Marilyn's husbands. There is also a truly bizarre cameo by Tom Aldredge as Miles's senior partner, an 87 year old barely kept alive by machines ('yet always the first in the office every morning'). I wasn't sure whether this character was meant to actually exist or was just a figment of Miles's imagination. Towards the end, some slapstick violence emerges, just to remind us of the Gothic finale of 'Fargo'.

This movie makes the grade as not mindless but unremarkable entertainment with one or two features to remind us that the Coens are capable of more memorable efforts. The movie is a healthy reminder that divorce attorneys at least in the US are primarily interested in earning lots of money rather than helping their clients ('What a notion!'). They don't have a great reputation for legal competence either; in that respect Miles Massey is a realistic portrait. As for gimlet-eyed gold-diggers like Marilyn, I suspect they are very rare and not likely to fall for the obvious charms of Miles, even attired in a kilt.

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More questions than answers for Coen fans

Author: periurban from East Lothian, Scotland
7 November 2003

This is a film I'd love to love, but I'm gonna have to watch it one more time to make up my mind. Usually, it takes a couple of watches to fully appreciate the full subtlety of the Coen Brothers' unique vision. This time I need to find out if the film was really as poor as I first thought. Is it the script? Not penned by the Coens, and it shows, but how did the "Nail your ass" stuff ever get through the re-writing and or QA process? I can only assume that Cedric the Entertainer (a very optimistic description of the man) had some influence here. Is it the cinematography? Might be. The whole look is a little bit bland compared to the sumptious look that we've grown accustomed to with the Coens. Was some of the slapstick framed a little too close? Maybe. What about the music? Carter Burwell is my favourite film music composer, so I hesitate to criticise, but is he up to the rigorous demands of light romantic comedy? Or is it me that's getting it wrong? Maybe the film isn't what I think it is. Are the Coens just messing with our minds? I did laugh, but I was all too aware that there were parts of the film that made no sense unless they were funny, but no-one was laughing. A couple of people actually walked out... As usual, the Coens have intrigued me, but I'm really worried that this time my interest might not be rewarded.

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Colorful, clever 50's-like adventure

8/10
Author: hyperexcel from USA
6 November 2003

Nothing short of the word "colorful" can describe this great "romantic" comedy. Dare I say it, the cast really is an ensemble, focusing not just on George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones' relationship, but the hijinky characters that weave in and out of the story. The Coen brothers are masters at making single-serving characters that do their job and keep you laughing.

Clooney is forever the charmer, and Zeta-Jones is forever the beastly yet fascinating snake. A VERY SPECIAL hands-off to Cedric the Entertainer for his a$$-nailing role as a P.I. The plot twists were fantastic and adventurous. I felt like I was watching a boyishly playful collection of shenanigans from the overdone expressions and mannerisms of some of the characters. And you know something? I enjoyed it.

Bravo to the Coen brothers, even though a lot of people think this is one of their least good. I for one, was rolling in my seat. Very funny.

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A Viewer's Expectation/Mind set often determine outcome..

Author: robbmr from United States
3 November 2003

but in this case I/we wanted more than a few giggles/smiles;I wanted belly laughs. And the surrounding audience was more than ready; they were primed, laughing at the 7 minutes of Coke commercials preceding the flick, and were in hysterics at the previews including Nickleson's latest. Thus when Geof.Rush opens with an 'off the edge' scene' , hyperventilating into the 'infidelity' theme and variations, I thought my fondest wish would be realized. His and all the supporting actors "cameos' were well written/directed for desirable effects. My disappointment falls on the leads and their rather 'flat', monotonish deliveries, lovely to look at but there's NO chemistry here relationship. Their less than edgy scenes aren't 'crisply written', and some scenes were plain dull..It's the absurd characters- 'Inserts"- that kept my eyes open...eg. senior law firm head... Since the 'surrounding female audience' sustained their hysterics thru much of the film,I presume I must accept responsibility for my own 'null & void' reaction: One man/womans comedy is another's flatliner..and Yes, I/we have enjoyed most other Coen flicks and loved "Iost in translation", and Mystic River....and desire to take any surrogate grandchild to see Elf, Cat in Hat... etc....PS. We've previously enjoyed/thought highly of Zeta-Jones in Chicago and her dramatic roles, and am still waiting for a role for Clooney..

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Not their best, but it IS Coen Brothers

Author: AllanJ-2 from Copenhagen DK
3 November 2003

Unlike the "Unemployed Critic", I am willing to give this a 7, instead of a 5. But I agree with many of his views.

Personally, I have come to expect so much of the Coen Brothers that I am disappointed when they don't rise to previous heights... as I was after seeing Intolerable Cruelty. But, on reflection, I realized that it was a better film than 95% of what Hollywood panders, and better than most of the Indies I have seen recently.

I laughed or chuckled throughout the film, mainly for the sight gags and the weird C-B tics (Clooney's obsession with his teeth, compared to his obsession with his hair in "O Brother"), and the delight of seeing C-B favorite actors back on deck.

But later... days later... I am chuckling over the send up of materialism, cynical marriages, divorce, lawyers, cheap adultery, gold-diggers, tacky weddings, Vegas, bad mob stories, Rottweiler owners... was there anyone they didn't put a pin in?

If you take this movie seriously, you aren't a Coen Brothers fan... and you will be disappointed.

If you approach it in the spirit intended... you will get a good laugh and, I suspect, enjoy the film days later.

If you are an incarnate Coen Brothers fan... yeah, ok. It's not their greatest work... But it beats Oliver Stone any day of the week.

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`Cruel' to be good

Author: Psi from Northern Ireland
3 November 2003

Rating: **** (out of *****)

In Intolerable Cruelty, our leads are a lawyer and a seductive woman – hold on, haven't we been here before? In a way, it feels like we're going back to Chicago, without the music. Hey, even Catherine Zeta-Jones is in this, playing the seductive woman of all people.

But this is something completely different. For instance, there's no sign of Richard Gere (Incidentally, if you'd put him in this film, it would surely have sunk). No, instead George Clooney plays the lawyer, and the end result is a rather fine, if slightly lightweight, film.

Intolerable Cruelty definitely isn't your traditional romantic comedy. It contains a little bit of romance, yes, but you'll also see satirical and dramatic elements thrown in. The comedy, meanwhile, is mostly dark, witty and twisted. That's not much of a surprise, though, when you consider that the film is co-written and directed by none other than the Coen brothers. It's quite possible to imagine that the film would have been far more run of the mill without their influence.

Because they didn't write Intolerable Cruelty on their own, you shouldn't expect it to be totally Coen. In fact, if you're a fan, their humour's probably the only thing you'll recognise. But here, that's not a problem.

Miles Massey (Clooney), a clever divorce lawyer bored by his constant success, faces one of his toughest cases yet; preventing the devious Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones) from obtaining the full value of the divorce settlement from her latest husband. What he isn't yet aware of is that Marylin consistently flirts from husband to husband, always gaining the settlement for herself, and thus becoming richer. But her life – and his – are about to change dramatically.

The Coens allow both Clooney and Zeta-Jones to relax and be themselves, and it works wonderfully. Even if chemistry between them is no more than serviceable, it's great to watch them spouting good dialogue at one another. These two are really just playing on their traditional screen personalities of charismatic (but troubled) central figure and self-indulgent attention hunter. And I don't recall Mrs. Douglas looking better in a film for some time. I'm not her strongest supporter, but few others could have played her part so well. Watch out for very funny appearances by the likes of Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton and Cedric the Entertainer also.

There are at least two laugh-out loud scenes in a large collection of sharp (and sometimes physical) humour. The title sequence is pretty inspired, as is regular Coen collaborator Carter Burwell's use of music (which includes neat take off's on the work of Simon & Garfunkel and Elvis). At one point, however, the physical comedy is overdone, and a few parts of the film don't make much sense. These are minor complaints though.

It's a tribute to the Coens' bizarre talents that they've taken what could have been ordinary and made it something much more remarkable. I poured praise on them a few years ago for transforming Homer's Odyssey into such superb entertainment (in the form of O Brother, Where Art Thou?), and while watching this film didn't provoke quite as enthusiastic a reaction from me, it's impossible to deny that they've come up with the goods again. Intolerable Cruelty may not be substantial enough to leave a really long lasting impression, but it will definitely keep you entertained.

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