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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.
Have you ever wondered what Michael Douglas would look like if he would have exactly the same kind of a hairdo as his dear old daddy Kirk? If the answer is yes watch "One night at McCool's" and the secret finally reveals. Luckily it's not the only reason to see this film. "One night at McCool's" is surprisingly effective, successful and entertaining mixture of tongue-in-a-cheek crime film and wild comedy. Liv Tyler is divine, Matt Dillon's performance amusing and Paul Reiser and John Goodman are just as fantastic as always when they're really giving their best. Michael Douglas' supporting role is also one of the funniest details of the film and let's not forget Andrew Dice Clay's fabulous appearance as Utah. If you love good, black crime comedies like Guy Ritchie's films "Lock, stock and two smoking barrels" and "Snatch" or if you just worship Liv Tyler this nicely written, well-made and cleverly acted little treat can certainly be worth of your time.
I must admit, I liked this movie, and didnt find it all misogynist. It could be subtitled, three ways of looking at LiV Tyler. Three different men become obsessed with the same woman,and tell their stories to very different characters;One man(John Goodman) tells his story to a priest(the very funny Richard Jenkins).For Goodmans charcter, the Liv Tyler character is an idealized saint, the second coming of his sainted wife,Theresa.For Paul Riesers character(who tellls story to a shrink(a fine, understated performance by the great Reba Mcintire),the Liv Tyler character is simplyan object of (kinky)sexual fantasy.Finally Matt Dillons rather dimwitted charcter tells HIS side of the story to a sleazy hit man, played by Micheal Douglas.All three of these narratives of obsession are told simultaneously,and all are amusing. Finaly the film ends in a bizarrely funny climax, that I wont give away.
One Night at McCool's is a very funny movie that is more intelligent than
what it should be. Its form is more sophisticated than what I expected, and
its randomness was superb. The thoughts behind the movie (mysogeny, sadism,
stupid men) are are infantile. That's what I have to say about this movie
is that not only does it hate women, but it loathes men. It doesn't have
any sympathy for any of the men, really. It seems that way because of the
form, but the ending says it all. Nobody cares.
The form has the first 2/3 of the movie told in flashback by three characters: Dillon, the stupid bartender; Reiser, the mysogenistic stupid lawyer; and Goodman, the stupid, holier-than-thou cop. The story is therefore always perverted by their own self images and altered realities. Reiser's BBQ fantasy is a great touch. In the end, we never really know the truth, and nothing is what it seems. Dillon was never that innocent, etc.
Actually, the rest of the movie is funny too. From the randomness of the last 5 seconds of the movie to the overly-obviousness of Tyler's manipulations, the movie seems to have an energy all its own. Everything is just out of the blue, and nothing seems to make sense. Do we really care if it does? No.
It is also a very dark comedy, but has a shallow presentation. Think Nurse Betty, or Jawbreaker. Very candy coated outside, dark chewy inside. If you like your movies random, dark, or just purely mean, see this movie. This one will satisfy your urges for the strangeness that is One Night at McCool's.
I have to say I am surprised at the response of people on this website to
this film. So much so I felt I should say something about it.
Ok, this film certainly isn't Ben-Hur or The Searchers, its not a profound and streaming epic, but for what it is I can think of none better.
It is a very funny and almost bizarre film. It is original, the cast act their hearts out and it is very rewarding to watch, the direction is unique, almost perky, there are no plot twists you can guess well in advance - there are no real plot twists. There are developments but they are not meant to catch you off guard. The behaviour of the main males is entirely beleivable and Liv Tyler's blatant sexuality is purposeful - if she didn't come across as a woman who a man would do anything for the plot would be null and void. As it is - even the most vocal Liv Tyler haters will be won over by her performance.
Each of the male unfortunates are so hilarious in their sheer devotion to Tyler, Goodman as the cop whose wife died years before and who sees in Tyler something he hasn't felt in years. Reiser as a hot shot lawyer who wants to have felt something before he dies is completely hilarious in his Tyler fetish. And Matt Dillon as the slightly dim initial boyfriend manages to acheive gormlessness perfectly. Whether these are all instances of excellent casting or not, who cares. I laughed throughout this film. Admittedly not every line has you bent over in stitches and some of th emore obvious jokes seem designed for fans of the Farrelly Brothers type, but there is an overall atmosphere of farce to the film that you can't help but feel glad you aren't involved.
To summarise what I am rambling on about - basically this film is not going to go down in history as one of the all time greats - but it does have cult potential. It is highly original, brilliantly acted and it is completely aware of what it is mocking - beautiful women getting what they want and the sad fact that men couldn't care what they are forced to do as long as there is a stunning female waiting for them at the end.
Personally I think anyone who feels strongly against this film can speak to me abou tit because I would be interested to find out why. Very very good. And I hope it does become a cult hit because it certainly deserves something after the way it has been slated.
This is a very good black comedy, with a great view on how different people have a different perception of the same situations. The three main characters each met a girl named Jewel, played by Liv Tyler, who is a different male fantasy for each of the three men. Each of the three men go through the same situations, but when they tell of them to other people, their perception of the situation is very different from what the other two say. That is a very good concept, probably not entirely original but it works very well in the movie. The plot is very good, very bizarre and extreme, which makes it a good black comedy. The acting is equally good, not one of the actors seemed out of place or out of their league. The comedy is very black, pitch black in some scenes, and a lot of people will definitely be offended by it, but fans of black comedy will probably enjoy it. Overall, this movie is not for everyone's taste, but most people who like black comedy will probably love it, as it is definitely one of the better black comedies. 7/10
This movie is never going to be on a list of the top 50 films of all time, but if you're compiling a list of "fun films", this isn't a bad place to start. Liv Tyler is amazing, captivating and luscious, and everyone else is dead-on right for their parts. It's a 21st century counterpart to "Tom Jones" -- in other words; just good, bawdy fun. I think that this may be Tyler's breakthrough film on her way to major stardom. With no nudity she oozes sex in this film. It's no wonder all the boys give her toys. How could they help but do that for a helpless, innocent such as Liv's Jewel?
"One Night At McCools" is the kind of movie that you start watching and don't expect very much. It helps to first check your brains at the door or at the side of the couch. But, much to your surprise, the movie is a winner. It's a delightful film about four whacky characters that are so driven by their out-of-control basic instincts that you have to follow their trail and laugh along at them. And most of their instincts revolve around sex. Liv Tyler, playing the irresistible Jewell, delivers with little left to your imagination. In one of the sexiest performances I've seen on film in years, Liv keeps all men hot and aroused, both on and off the screen. Paul Reiser and John Goodman had some hysterical moments as two guys who are willing to give up everything for the woman of their dreams. And Matt Dillon did a fine job as the loser who had nothing going for him, but got sucked into the sex and violent world of the only woman who would give him the time of day. There was an unusual, for him, performance by Michael Douglas, as the con man and recipient of the long narrative tale told by Matt Dillon. It seemed that Michael was there to oversee the film, allowing the rest of the fine cast to do their thing and get the accolades. He played it very low key, which was perfect for a guy who's not known as a comedic actor. So get yourselves ready for a very funny, light, and fast-paced sex romp. It'll be one enjoyable night.
"One Night At McCool's" is one of those films that had possibilities, but in the long run it ends up being rather juvenile. It probably doesn't help matters much that I'm one of the few men (?) that doesn't think Liv Tyler is all that hot. Seeing as her sexuality is the main point of the plot, I had a hard time believing that all these guys would fall for her so easily. I'm not sure if she is just a terrible actress or was purposefully acting bad in order to develop her conning character. The lame and overdone sex scenes must have been done to placate the teenage boys that Liv may have drawn to the theaters. Matt Damon and John Goodman's characters are excellent, however, and provided quite a few laughs in their roles. The retelling of the same set of events through different viewpoints is always interesting and several comical retellings were what saved this movie from being a total wash.
Liv Tyler. Liv Tyler. Liv Tyler. Yeah it's hard to keep your mind off this fetching beauty (giving an radiantly picture-perfect performance), as she simply has tongues wagging. 'One Night at McCool's' is a dementedly quirky and raunchy black comedy with old-fashion shades tied in to its familiar, but smartly crafted and chaotic narrative which has three men lusting after the one women and she's milking it to her advantage. When you see Tyler, no wonder why they are infatuated and would do anything that's anything to see 'her' happy and living 'her' dreams. Just like Tyler, there's something rather intoxicating about this feature in that we see the likes of Matt Dillon, John Goodman, Paul Reiser (who's great) and especially Michael Douglas (who plays the hired assassin with cool-ease, but a questionable hairdo) really having a good time with their roles. The consuming plot opens up with the main three characters (Dillon, Goodman and Reiser) telling their story of how they came to encounter this divine presence and the eventual affects that she's having on them to lead to an insane climax. There's an unpredictable chain of events (ranging from fruity to sensual), where everything would virtually tie in together with a certain ironic (snowball) twist of fate for the characters (that see them leaving their reserved comfort zone to fulfill this girl). Howard Zwart's direction is colorfully zippy balancing the script's quick-fire gags and frenetically fun, if complicated situations. One of the best under-the-radar comedies in the last decade, which will have you under Tyler's thumb.
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