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Steven Hilliard Stern
After another hard night at McCool's, bartender Randy runs into Jewel. The seductive lady seems to have evaded a rape pretty closely, and when the man comes back, she puts a bullet in his head. After all these events (and others), Randy takes Jewel home, and the two become a couple. Yet Jewel begins to develop into a very demanding girlfriend and drives Randy into committing crimes for her and her elaborate lifestyle. Randy's cousin Carl is driven crazy by Randy's incredibly sexy girl as well as the investigating officer, Detective Dehling. Written by
Julian Reischl <email@example.com>
One of the few black comedies that work. The filmmakers take advantage of the funny material. *** (out of four)
ONE NIGHT AT McCOOL'S / (2001) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
According to Harald Zwart, the director of "One Night at McCool's," this film is "a dark comedy about the power of women over men, and how a group of people can all perceive different realities. It's the same story told from three different points of view, and each time we tell the story, we try to reveal a little bit more about what actually happened, which nobody really knows."
"One Night at McCool's" marks the feature film directorial debut of Zwart, an award winning commercial and music video director who began making short films when he was eight years old. I always get nervous when a director of commercials and music videos turns to filmmaking. We have seen so many examples of how these guys think they are making another advertisement or music video for TV with their productions. Zwart resists that tendency. He captures a specific humorous truth in "One Night at McCool's," from an inventive, complex screenplay by the late Stan Seidel, even if it is often somewhat perplexing.
"One Night At McCool's" features three men who share their separate experiences about a particularly beautiful young woman. In some ways, this movie is the comedy version of "American Beauty," but in others, it is a world apart.
"It all started one night at McCool's" explains each of the three men to their various listeners. There is Randy (Matt Dillon), a tender at the local bar, and his cousin, a lawyer named Carl (Paul Reiser), who stays until the place closes. Detective Dehling (John Goodman), arrives when the saloon becomes the crime scene of the dead boyfriend of a female fatal appropriately named Jewel (Liv Tyler). Randy is the first to see her, as an individual treats her unkindly. He stands up for her, and before you can say SEXY, they are having vigorous sex and she moves in with him. At first, Randy is reluctant: "The sex and the violence, all in one night it's a little much." But who could turn a jewel like Jewel away.
Jewel changes the lives of each of the three men. For Detective Dehling, she pulls him out of a hole of grief since his wife died. For Carl, she makes him forget his loving family and nice little suburban household. For Randy, she lights a few fires, both positive and negative, the later persuading him to contact a bingo playing hit man named Burmeister (Michael Douglas) to put an end to her deceptive ways.
It is interesting how the movie perceives the three different chronicles-even the costuming of Jewel is relative to the man telling the story. Dehling sees Jewel as a beautiful, mesmerizing gift from God. Carl sees Jewel as two sexy legs and lots of cleavage. Randy is unsure what to make of her, an awakening to his otherwise boring, road to nowhere life. The most intriguing element of this movie is Jewel herself, however, deliciously played by the always delightful Liv Tyler ("Armageddon"). She is not really interested in the men, but what they can offer her. Her motives are all too simple, not truthfully diabolical or evil; she is simply a young lady who has learned at an early age that she can get what she wants out of life through her beauty.
The film has a lot of fun with its material. From the enthusiastically entertaining cast, to its violently hilarious showdown, "One Night at McCool's" takes advantage of most of its humorous ideas. What makes the movie even funnier is how the three men's points of view differ. The actors have a lot of fun with their characters, too. Goodman is curiously whimsical; Reiser fits his kinky, squirmy part quite well; Douglas is sly and mysterious in one of the movie's funniest performances; Dillon gives his character arrogant personality, even though Randy is a lackluster nobody; Liv Tyler is dazzling. She injects Jewel with the perfect amount of boastful charisma and tantalizing wit. She reminds us of Mena Suvari's intimate performance in "American Beauty."
"One Night at McCool's" is the first film to come from Michael Douglas' new production company, Furthur Films. It is a creative, genuine, and sexy production. Along the way we often become caught up in the twisty structure, but that is a natural response to a movie that intentionally interweaves several angles to a single story. The movie ends on a note that is both black and comedic. This is another one of those comedies in which serious events take place in a humorous way; i.e., the black comedy. Many films of this genre come across as either too black or too lackadaisical. "One Night at McCool's" is one of the few that actually work.
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