Intolerable Cruelty (2003) Poster

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8/10
A somewhat conventional but extremely enjoyable Coen Brothers film
MartinHafer13 July 2007
Okay, compared to the average film this certainly is NOT conventional. But compared to many of the wilder and weirder Coen Brothers films (such as THE HUDSUCKER PROXY or RAISING ARIZONA), this movie is more "normal" than most of their films. However, while having a fun but almost conventional plot is NOT a bad thing for lovers of the weird Coen touch because interspersed throughout the film are some of the oddest and funniest supporting characters that make it obvious to most in the audience that this is one of their films. In some ways, this is reminiscent (on a less subtle level) of Fellini--who is known for some of the weirdest and ugliest supporting characters in many of his films.

Cederic the Entertainer is one of these funny bit parts, as the low-class and dim private investigator he plays is a riot. Playing the exact opposite of his earlier character in another Coen Brothers film (THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE), the excessively talkative Billy Bob Thornton was quite funny and was a great inside joke for lovers of Coen films. Herb Meyerson plays an extremely creepy and moribund boss. I loved how suddenly near the end of the film this incredibly sick old goat suddenly comes to life--you just have to see it to understand what I mean. Plus, in an odd bit of going against type, Edward Herrmann plays a small but funny role as a kinky millionaire with a train fetish. Herrmann is probably best known as the narrator of many History Channel films and has had a habit of playing stuffy executives or millionaires--and he certainly is NOT stuffy here!

Now as for the plot, while slightly more conventional and a bit predictable, it still is very entertaining. I certainly wouldn't have thought that Catherine Zeta Jones and George Clooney would have been all that funny together, but it all worked thanks to excellent writing and direction. They make an excellent "anti-romantic" romantic comedy team.

Cute, funny and a good date film--watch it and have a good laugh.
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8/10
Very enjoyable, a few flaws, but I really liked it!
TheLittleSongbird10 May 2009
This was much better than I thought it would be. This is a more than decent film. Yes it is flawed, but very few movies I have seen are completely flawless. What sparkled most was the chemistry of George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones. Clooney proves himself very likable, and does actually have some comedic talent. I can understand completely why people are entranced by Zeta Jones, because she looked amazing in this movie, and her rather saucy style of acting is put to good use in this film. There was very good support from Geoffrey Rush and Edward Hermann, as well as Billy Bob Thornton in a minor role. The script is very funny and sharply-observed. But the problem I had with the movie was the story. It was very confusing at times, and there were some scenes that felt misplaced like the opening scene. The film is also beautifully filmed, and carefully timed. In conclusion, an enjoyable film, and I am glad the film has a decent rating. 8/10 Bethany Cox.
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5/10
Coen brothers can't make me like divorce lawyers
SnoopyStyle14 September 2013
Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a tough L.A. divorce attorney, and he destroys Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones) in her divorce with Rex Rexroth, a wealthy real estate developer and habitual philanderer. Marylin schemes to get even. First she quickly marries oil tycoon Howard Doyle. Then she makes Miles fall for her. Only it's all part of her scheme.

The Coen brothers try to give L.A. divorce lawyers the Coen treatment. The crazy Coen style is in evidence here. The fast-talking dialog is dense, but doesn't flow. The mannerisms are exaggerated without the humorous effects. The biggest problem is that divorce lawyers aren't funny, and even the Coen brothers can't make them so. Not just the lawyers, everybody is disgusting, scheming, sleazy, money grubbing lowlifes. They're just more beautiful while doing it. I don't care about anybody or anything in this movie. I don't care about Miles, and I don't care if Miles get taken, and I don't care if Miles is truly in love.
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6/10
A Corny and Commercial End For a Good Amoral Story
claudio_carvalho4 September 2004
Miles Massey (George Clooney) is a very successful divorce lawyer, the best in his field and president of a organization specialized in divorces. In one of his trials, he wins a case apparently lost against the smart Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones). However, he has a crush on her, but she gets married again with Howard D. Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton), a wealthy man from oil business in Texas. There are nasty characters and situations, many plot points and some good jokes along this amoral story. However, the corny and commercial end ruins the cynicism of the plot and the flick becomes a conventional romantic comedy. In the end, it is a watchable and forgettable entertainment. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): 'O Amor Custa Caro' ('Love is Expensive')
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Far from their best work with a few weak spots but still an enjoyable farce
bob the moo8 November 2003
Miles Massey is an amazing divorce lawyer who has a well-earned reputation. When he takes on the case of Rex Rexroth, who was caught on video cheating with another woman, he successfully wins the case and leaves the wronged wife, Marylin, with nothing. However he also falls for her, but she is planning his downfall in return for her losing everything she had.

With a big name pair of leads, it does look very much like the Coen's were looking for a big screen hit that would support their work to a greater extent than the loyal fan base does. As that sort of film, it seems to be doing OK, but, I wondered, at what cost to the product? The film starts well enough with an interesting case which we actually see little of, however the character of Miles is enough to hold the film together. The film contains the usual mix of larger than life characters and quirky humour, but the central romancing doesn't always hold true and there are stretches where the humour dips away to find that there is very little left without it.

Having said that, this doesn't occur often enough to be a problem and the film is still pretty good fun. The characters are it's making and there are enough of those to make it work. Clooney excels in the lead with a strange sort of humour - the same sort of character he played in "O Brother" if you ask me, but he does seem to have a touch for the comic stuff. Jones is less assured and her character has less of the humour I expect from the Coens and is more of a straight role. The support cast is all good as they provide small snippets of humour, whether it be Wheezy Joe or the rude waitress.

Overall it is not the cleverest film the Coen's have done, nor the funniest or most satisfying but, as a multiplex pleasing romance with quirky humour, it does work and should be enjoyed as that.
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8/10
Another Win for the Coens
gavin694229 August 2009
A gold digger (Catherine Zeta-Jones) tries to get wealthy from divorcing her adulterous husband. What she doesn't expect is the powerful attorney skills of Max (George Clooney). He shoots her down, and she has revenge on her mind: so she quickly finds another husband to dig gold from, and begins the game anew... while Max begins to fall for her.

The Coens know how to craft a film. They work well with Clooney ("O Brother" and "Burn After Reading") and Billy Bob Thornton. I am not sure how often they have worked with Zeta-Jones, but they positioned her perfectly here. She comes off as smart, loquacious and probably the sexiest she's ever been on camera (despite being pregnant during filming).

There are some twists in this film that I didn't see coming, and some I did. Underneath it all, it's a romantic comedy. Sure, there's some obstacles, but isn't that how it goes? But I think this romantic comedy fares better than most: it is not simply made for women, but tries to be sincerely humorous and clever, which I think will appeal to both genders. You probably can't relate this story to your real life, but that's not the point: it's a movie.

The Coens can do no wrong, it seems, and "Intolerable Cruelty" further establishes that hypothesis. While not as outright funny as some of their films, it has a steady pace and interesting characters... and the Clooney. Coen and Clooney together is movie-making gold.
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4/10
Intolerable Cruelty
jboothmillard22 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If this title didn't have a catchy title, some good names in the cast, and made by the Coen brothers, Joel and Ethan (Raising Arizona, No Country for Old Men), I don't know if I would have watched this to be honest. Basically Miles Longfellow Massey (George Clooney) is the Los Angeles divorce lawyer with everything he could ever want, all the luxuries in the world, an impressive win record, and respect from everyone he knows. But he is becoming bored of his success and wants new challenges, and things change when he meets his match in Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), ex-wife of his new client, wealthy real estate developer and habitual philanderer Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann). She has managed to nail Rex with the help of private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric the Entertainer) and is looking forward to the big divorce settlement, only to end with nothing because of the skills of Miles. To get revenge on the rival lawyer, Marilyn schemes a plan to reel him in, starting with a quick marriage to oil tycoon Howard Drexler Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton). Trying to go against her Miles and his associate Wrigley (Paul Adelstein) only dig themselves deeper, but the battle of the sexes only brings the rivals closer and closer, to the point of undeniably escalating attraction. By the end, Gus has his own show on TV revolving around nailing people on camera, and Miles and Marilyn get married themselves, the feud between them pretty much vanishes. Also starring Geoffrey Rush as Donovan Donaly, Richard Jenkins as Freddy Bender, Julia Duffy as Sarah Batista O'Flanagan Sorkin, Jonathan Hadary as Heinz, the Baron Krauss Von Espy and Tom Aldredge as Herb Myerson. I found quite a lot of confusing, especially Clooney's weird facial expressions, I wondered if Zeta-Jones was speaking her native Welsh accent, and many other cast members were wooden, I just didn't find it that funny or inventive, I just liked the courtroom stuff, but overall, not a very memorable satirical romantic comedy. Okay, in my opinion!
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7/10
The Cruelty is Tolerable.
rmax3048237 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
George Clooney is a high-priced lawyer in this comedic treatment of marriage and divorce, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is one of a pack of women who search out men of awesome wealth in order to clean their clocks during the divorce that immediately follows. Need it be added that cynicism abounds? In his keynote address to his professional society, Clooney's speech was, "The Equitable Distribution of Assets in Cases of Murder Slash Sucide."

We see Clooney at work in the courtroom, attacking a woman who is trying to get a chunk of her husband's estate. He asks her if she's ever heard of David Newton (or some such name) and she answers that, yes, he's the tennis pro who teaches at her club. Clooney whips around and faces her with an "Ah-HAH!" expression and asks, "A tennis pro? Then why did you address this letter to him as 'Dear David -- and GOLIATH'?" That's about the level of the humor you'll find in this film, and if you didn't appreciate that example you're not likely to applaud the rest of the movie.

Well, I'll give another example. Jones brings her new fiancé, the oil billionaire Billy Bob Thornton, to Clooney's office and has him draw up an unbreakable "Massey Pre-Nup," which will insure that, should there ever be a break up of the marriage, which the bedazzled and stupid Thornton is firmly convinced there won't, his fortune will be safe from her predations. Then, at the wedding, Thornton proves his undying faith in Jones by tearing up the pre-nuptial agreement and eating it after dipping it in Texas barbecue sauce. During the wedding celebration, with the band playing and Jones still in her bridal dress, Clooney takes her aside and asks, "Now that the marriage is winding down, have you given any thought to your plans for the future?" Do I have to explain that gag? Okay. The wedding isn't even over but Clooney and Jones already know that the next step is divorce.

Okay, another gag. Clooney is giving a speech before an assembly of the nation's top divorce lawyers in a Las Vegas ballroom. They are all members of the National Organization of Marriage Attorneys of Nevada or something like that. The N.O.M.A.N. Behind Clooney's lectern is a banner spelling out, "Let N.O.M.A.N. Put Asunder." Get it? "Let no man put asunder?" When you get your divorce, be sure to let us do it for you.

Not all the jokes are so recherché. Jones hires a private eye, Cedric the Entertainer, to get the photographic goods on one of her husbands, Edward Hermann. He does so and later brags to Jones, "When I says I nails their ass, I nails their ass. I am the world's greatest ass nailer." "How amusing," Jones remarks, "an aphorist." Cedric replies, "Yeah, I tries to work out at the gym."

I've given so many extended examples of the kinds of jokes you'll find -- and the examples HAD to be extended -- that there's not much room left for the plot. But it doesn't matter much. Jones the Barracuda and Clooney the Master Manipulator fall in love and live happily ever after. The rest is a series of gags, visual and auditory, smuggled into the narrative, sometimes crabwise.

I hate to use the word "sophisticated" in describing a comedy like this. It's not really that more challenging than, say, Ernst Lubitsch's "To Be Or Not To Be," which is very funny indeed. But in both cases you need to keep on your mental toes to catch the more subtle goings on. As in the case of Lubisch's film, when bomber pilot Robert Stack claims that he can deliver a thousand pounds of dynamite all at once and Carol Lombard's face lights up with anticipation.

What I'm trying to say is that, maybe I have too low an opinion of the sensitivity and patience of kids today, but I still suspect a lot of the humor will get by them unnoticed. Oh, there are some scenes that will move them to laughter. As in a cartoon, an asthmatic hit man gets his inhaler mixed up with his gun and sprays his victim and then blows his own head off. But that only happens once.

Well, the best advice: Judge for yourselves. I found it pretty funny. Not always successful at what it tries to do, but at least it TRIES to be adult. How often can that be said about a movie these days?
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5/10
Coen Brothers comedy: would-be rude and brazen...
moonspinner5529 February 2008
Director Joel Coen and his writing and producing brother Ethan have an affection for the past which they manage to translate well to their projects. For their lighter fare, they may take the '30s screwball romps with Jean Harlow or Clark Gable and use them as a helpful outline--a starting point for the comedy--and then cast accordingly. However, with "Intolerable Cruelty", which was worked on by three other writers besides the Coens, a rude, snorting tone was called for which the Coens shy away from. Beautiful divorcée/gold-digger Catherine Zeta-Jones appears to have cleaned up financially from her last marriage and accepts a new proposal from cocky, smitten divorce lawyer George Clooney; he insists on a prenuptial agreement to protect her money, yet she wants to romantically wipe the slate clean...but can he trust her? The satirical jabs at modern marriages (via Beverly Hills) are excruciatingly stupid (particularly the opening with Geoffrey Rush), though an early courtroom sequence with Clooney grilling Jonathan Hadary's effete Baron is joyfully played to the hilt. The Coens' don't have the nasty streak required for spiteful, "War of the Roses"-styled farce--they're too fanciful, and too entrenched in old-fashioned repartee. The resulting film doesn't have the sharp edge or bite the secondary writers were probably going for, and eventually it all collapses like a harmless soufflé. ** from ****
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Clooney and Zeta-Jones are fun to watch in this Coen brothers film.
TxMike21 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Recently after seeing their latest offering, "Burn After Reading", I looked at the list of Coen brothers movies to see which ones I had missed. "Intolerable Cruelty" was one of them, and one I had wanted to see because I enjoy both Clooney and Zeta-Jones. Fortunately my public library has the DVD.

George Clooney is divorce attorney Miles Massey, very shrewd in court, and author of the famous "Massey Prenup" which has never been cracked by opposing attorneys. It is so significant, he tells during a speech, that Harvard Law devotes an entire semester to it. Movie fantasy hype, of course, but it serves to underscore the importance of this concept

to the whole movie. In fact it would be a different movie without it.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is fortune-hunter Marylin, who hires a detective to film her husband in a motel room affair, so that she can get half of his extreme wealth. Her husband is puzzled because he thought they had a mutual understanding about such dalliances. But Miles, doing his own brand of detective work wins at the trial, and she gets nothing. But he is seriously smitten with Marylin's beauty and cunning and he just has to have her for himself.

Geoffrey Rush is Donovan Donaly, one of the divorcing husbands in the movie. Cedric the Entertainer is super as Gus Petch who investigates and videotapes cheating spouses. Edward Herrmann is good as Marilyn's wealthy cheating husband Rex Rexroth. Richard Jenkins is another divorce attorney Freddy Bender.

Late in the movie comes Billy Bob Thornton as Texas Oil tycoon Howard D. Doyle, who becomes Marilyn's next husband, and for some unexplained reason they come to Miles for an iron-clad prenup. But as the story plays out it makes perfect sense.

There is no pretense of a great truth here, it is just an entertaining story with a group of entertaining actors.

SPOILERS: Marilyn was of course upset with Miles for having demonstrated in court that she had married Rex only for his money, so she was out to get even, knowing Miles' attraction towards her. Howard Doyal was NOT in fact a wealthy tycoon but instead an actor. After Marilyn dumped him and, presumably got rich from it, she showed an interest in Miles. They were married in a quick LV ceremony and she insisted a Massey Prenup was not necessary, she trusted Miles. But after they were married and Miles discovers the ruse with "Howard" he panics because she could now get half of Miles' assets. So the movie ends in divorce mediation, with their lawyers, but it now appears that Marilyn and Miles really do love each other, they kiss as the movie ends. Who knows what really may have happened???
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7/10
A sharp divorce attorney meets his match
blanche-223 February 2009
"Intolerable Cruelty" is a 2003 film starring George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones, two beautiful stars who definitely harken back to the golden era of Hollywood. This film, directed by Joel Coen, is an attempt to do one of those battle of the wits comedies so successful in that same era, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, or several other combinations.

Despite the star power, "Intolerable Cruelty" isn't as successful as those older films, partly because the writing isn't sharp enough and the pacing isn't fast enough. The premise is a very funny one; A sharp, successful divorce attorney, Miles Massey (Clooney) comes up against a woman, Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones) who marries men for the big settlements she can get in a divorce. She is humiliated by him in court, but shows up in his office with her next husband, a rich Texan (Billy-Bob Thornton) wanting a prenup. She's is given the famous "Massey prenup," which has never been broken in court. On their wedding day, her new husband shows his devotion by eating the prenup. Six months later, she dumps him. Miles is fascinated by her and pursues her, at first wanting to learn her secret, and then falling for her.

The best part of the film is the very beginning, when a television producer (Geoffrey Rush) catches his wife with an old friend of hers who just happens to be selling pool supplies in their neighborhood. The scene sets up "Intolerable Cruelty" to be much funnier than it turns out.

Clooney is very funny; Jones underplays, which here comes off as somewhat lethargic, given Clooney's broad portrayal. Thornton, Edward Herrmann as Marylin's first husband, and the rest of the cast offer excellent support.

Certainly not unwatchable, but not completely successful.
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7/10
The weakest of the Coen brothers' films I've seen, though it's not all on their end to blame
Quinoa198411 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Intolerable Cruelty was a film that didn't originate with the Coen brothers. Unlike such masterpieces as Blood Simple and Fargo, and even theatrical sleepers like The Man Who Wasn't There and The Big Lebowski, this was a film in all likely-hood offered to them from producer Brian Grazer and from a story by Matthew Stone and Robert Ramsey (of EdTV fame if you're wondering who they are). Indeed, this is the first time a Coen brothers film (with a possible exception being O Brother Where Art Thou, which also starred George Clooney) looks 'big' bucks.

There are signs in the story of why Joel and Ethan Coen would want to make this movie, since it has an intriguing idea that runs along their sense of sly/cleverness. Miles Massey (Clooney, showing off his teeth) is a marriage lawyer who's risen to fame among his ranks for win after win, and a pre-nup named after him that's impenetrable. Enter Rex Rexroth (Edward Hermann), who has been caught on camera in a scene of infidelity, and still wants to get away without giving her anything in divorce court. His wife is the icy, gorgeous Marilyn (Catherine Zeta-Jones in a performance within a performance), who through the course of the film has a few tricks up her sleeve, which impresses Miles enough to start falling in love with her. This, even as she plans to re-marry after her divorce to an oil tycoon (Billy Bob Thornton, who gives a small role that should've had more to it).

I wouldn't consider Intolerable Cruelty to be a perpetually bad film, in fact there were a few of characters of note that brought out belly laughs from me: Geoffrey Rush shows off his acting chops in the opening scene, and two bit parts for Jonathan Hadary as Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy, and Irwin Keyes as Wheezy Joe, reminded me what irreverent and uproarious spirit the Coens bring to their films. However, a lot of the film is filled mostly with dialog, though clever, that probably looked funnier on paper - the performances by the stars mean well, but a lot of times the combination of the acting and writing is dry. Do Clooney and Zeta-Jones have chemistry, yes, but when a story like this is this obvious it blocks real interest in these characters, who for at least half of the film are shallow amidst the romantic/black comedy. C+
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1/10
Intolerable Cruelty-For Us To View 1/2*
edwagreen18 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Here we go again with another Coen brothers quirky film. This one falls right on its face.

The intolerable cruelty should refer to the audiences that had to sit through this thing.

This one is where divorce attorney George Clooney and a woman out to divorce to make millions, Catherine Zeta Jones, get really what's coming to them.

This is basically a farce dealing with the pitfalls of divorce attorneys and how unscrupulous they can be.

Clooney and Ms. Jones go toe to toe in this film as they try to outwit each other. Once seems to have the upper hand only to see the other gain momentum.

Never count out the pre-nuptial agreement. In the case of this movie, such an agreement should have been made that it not be shown.
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A clever game with high stakes
Gordon-1124 November 2014
This film tells the story of a beautiful woman who swindles ex-husbands for their wealth by divorce.

The plot is clever, as there is always a game to play for the two lead characters. The successful lawyer thinks he's immune to divorce settlements as he has the impeccable prenuptial agreement, yet the sly woman has always got a better trick for him. The power struggle between them is fun and entertaining. This clever game of cat and mouse is very interesting, especially as the stakes gets increasingly higher as time goes on. In addition, the two lead characters are so beautiful and confident, making them slightly different from the usual leads of romantic comedies. I enjoyed watching "Intolerable Cruelty".
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5/10
What we do for love.
michaelRokeefe8 May 2004
With the Coen brothers involved you would expect a witty and somewhat strange brand of comedy. This effort is lackluster by their standards, but still a funny screwball comedy. Love is damn sure not blind. A very slick Beverly Hills divorce lawyer(George Clooney)falls head-over-heals for a very beautiful, but ruthless gold-digger(Catherine Zeta-Jones). After defending one of her husbands, he talks her into marriage with both tearing up their prenuptial agreements. No sooner than the marriage begins...their savage divorce is put into play.

Zeta-Jones was the reason for my watching. And it is hard NOT to watch her. Clooney was actually good as the often self centered lawyer. Also in the cast are:Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton and Cedric the Entertainer. I was impressed with the use of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" for the opening credits. Better than average, but no great shakes. Well worth watching.
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Acting Out Trains
tedg10 September 2008
I celebrate the Coens. I like how they try to surround the craft by doing projects of different kinds. It seems only Woody and these brothers like to walk on the edge of the universe to see how big it is.

So even a minor comedy is welcome. But I think this is their least successful film. ("The Big Lebowski" is their best in my estimation.) Its because they made a mistake in casting and this genre requires a force he lacks. Clooney is valuable for his "wink with me while I play this guy" acting style. Soderbergh knows how to use this. For all their skills, the Coens never learned how to adapt a film once started, to make up for the places near the edges where the crayon cannot reach from the edge of the world.

The story arc has to be simple for this form; all the magic is in the colors, the subtle nuances. The Coens never really spend time on genre reproduction for its own sake. They do it so they can deviate from it in small, modern ways. I'm surprised to say that Patapiller Jones does a really fine job. Its just a tone that Clooney doesn't have.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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8/10
L.A. L.A. Land
jotix1007 September 2004
Warning: 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.

Spoilers herein.

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.
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8/10
Madcap Melodrama About Matrimony!!!
zardoz-1318 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A madcap comedy of errors about matrimony and divorce, "Intolerable Cruelty" is simultaneously both fast-paced as well as satirical. Leading man George Clooney is the epitome of the Warner Brothers cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, while leading lady Catherine Zeta-Jones qualifies as the Road Runner. Clooney plays the sartorially elegant Miles Massey, a crackerjack divorce attorney who can always be counted on to find enough wiggle room to his clients out of virtually any predicament, and Zeta-Jones plays gold-digging vamp Marilyn Rexroth, a serial millionaire divorcée, who seems to outwit the sagacious Miles at every turn. This lightweight, often frothy, romantic comedy appropriates the theme of divorce, and it posits not surprisingly that compromise lies at the heart of marriage as an institution as well as divorce. Our fiendishly clever courtroom protagonist has drawn up the ultimate solution to every spouse's nightmare: the renowned Massey Pre-Nup, a binding, loop-hole free, pre-marital agreement contract. If you are wealthy and you don't want to split everything or worse with your spouse after either you or she has been caught in the arms of another lover, you sign the Massey Pre-Nup. As our hero informs us at one point, the Massey Pre-Nup is the subject of at least one class at the prestigious Harvard Law School.

When our vain attorney lays his eyes on Marilyn for the first time in his office, Miles is smitten by this delectable doll and grovels shameless at her feet for her heart. She warns him that such behavior could serve as grounds for getting him disbarred, but he dismisses this threat as a mild inconvenience. The plot revolves around how useful the Massey Pre-Nup is where matters of the heart are concerned. Love, as it turns out, is the one thing that Miles hasn't factored into his prenuptial agreement. When our devious heroine ties the knot with a hopelessly wealthy Texas millionaire, she convinces him to tear up the pre-nup in an act of love. Literally, he eats the document. Like all good movies, "Intolerable Cruelty" comes with several surprises that keep us on our toes. Unfortunately, as much fun as it is, this Coen Brothers' effort doesn't generate the level of hilarity of either "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" or "The Big Lebowski." Nevertheless, it is worth watching and you can have a lot of fun watching it more than once. The cast is uniformly excellent that supports both Clooney and Zeta-Jones. Cedric the Entertainer plays a profane private-eye who lives for the big moment when he can catch philandering couples on video. Coen Brothers' frequent cast member Richard E. Jenkins plays Freddy Bender who acts as Marilyn's attorney. Billy Bob Thornton is amusing as Marilyn's second husband, and Jonathan Hadary steals his only scene during a courtroom sequence as Baron Krauss von Espy who sets our heroine up with likely husband prospects that she can take to the cleaners in divorce court.
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8/10
Great movie...
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews14 November 2003
This is the first Coen brothers film I have seen, so I don't really have any previous experience to compare with. However, even after having read a lot of negative comments towards the film, I still must say it is great. It was funny and surprising, throughout the entire movie. George Clooney is fantastic in this role; his facial acting was incredibly funny. Catherine Zeta-Jones was also quite funny, especially the 'crying in court' scene. Pretty much every big character in the movie is somewhat a caricature, of that type of person; the money-driven lawyer, the gold-digging rich woman, the black ghetto-type guy, etc. This doesn't make the movie seem bland, as the caricatures are not cliched. The movie is thoroughly entertaining, and I guess most people will enjoy it; you should have a decent understanding of America, though, especially the court system in America, or you won't get all the jokes. 8/10
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Crimes & misdemeanors
george.schmidt14 October 2003
INTOLERABLE CRUELTY (2003) *** George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Edward Herrmann, Cedric The Entertainer, Geoffrey Rush, Richard Jenkins, Billy Bob Thornton, Julia Duffy, Tom Aldredge, Jonathan Hadary, Stacey Travis, Irwin Keyes.

Modern-day 'screwball comedy' homage to Preston Sturges, Howard Hawks and Ernst Lubitsch from Joel & Ethan Coen – who modified the screenplay by Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone and John Romano to fit their finely skewed tailoring – with Clooney channeling Cary Grant as a vainglorious hot-shot LA divorce attorney who meets his match in serial bride Zeta-Jones out to bilk the next billionaire sucker who comes into her view for 'independence' with broad strokes of comical whimsy. Rapid-fire dialogue and slapstick situations (Keyes' asthmatic hit-man is one for the film vault) help elevate the at-times strained chemistry between the two charismatic leads that nonetheless prove to be utterly charming.
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7/10
A Hit for the Coen Brothers
evanston_dad29 April 2005
The Coen brothers are a very hit-or-miss film-making team. Either I love their movies ("Fargo," "Blood Simple," "The Man Who Wasn't There") or I hate them ("The Big Lebowski, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"). O.k., so I didn't necessarily love "Intolerable Cruelty," but it does qualify as a hit for me. It's a refreshingly unpredictable comedy, sort of a dark homage to the screwball comedies of the 30's and 40's. I could see Cary Grant and Irene Dunne doing this film, or William Powell and Myrna Loy. I think George Clooney is a pretty bland actor, but I can admit that he's got charm, which is all this role really calls for. Catherine Zeta-Jones will probably reveal herself to be a fairly limited actress by the time all is said and done, but she's sexy as hell, which is all HER role really calls for. So, these two work together just fine.

The only quibbles I have with the movie are the one or two instances where it falls back on that slapstick humour that the Coen brothers tend to overdo, but these are minor quibbles. Overall, this one is a winner.

Grade: A-
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6/10
An Unscrupulous Lawyer vs. a Scheming Gold Digger
Uriah4330 April 2021
"Miles Massey" (George Clooney) is an unscrupulous divorce lawyer who never seems to lose a case regardless of whether his client is right or wrong. So when one particularly rich person named "Rex Rexroth" (Edward Herrmann) comes to him for help in his divorce Miles eagerly accepts the case even though his client was caught on tape in the act of infidelity. Sure enough, he wins in court and Rex's gold-digging wife "Marylin Rexroth" (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is left penniless. But it doesn't end there as Marylin has another scheme in mind--and Miles is her next target. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was a decent comedy for the most part with both George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones performing their roles in an outstanding manner. The one problem I had with it, however, is that neither of the two characters were all that likeable. Even so, it was still entertaining in spite of that fact and I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.
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7/10
Killer Asthma
ferguson-612 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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8/10
"Now I'm going to have it (his head) stuffed, mounted, and have my lady friends come over and throw darts at it."
morrison-dylan-fan3 December 2020
Warning: Spoilers
When I would heard about the film years ago,I for some reason kept confusing it for Burn After Reading (2008-also reviewed.) Recently starting to watch more credits from the Coen's,I was pleased to see this title appear on Netflix UK, leading to me discovering some cruel intentions.

View on the film:

Revealing that what would become the first title they would edit digitally had been in development for eight years, the screenplay by co-editors/ co-writers/(with Robert Ramsey/Matthew Stone and John Romano) co-directing auteurs Joel and Ethan Coen serve a modern tribute to the Screwball Comedy.

The writers throw zany hip gumball one-liners between slick lawyer Miles (played with a classic Hollywood shine by George Clooney) and merrily sarcastic multiple divorcee Marylin, (played with a wicked glee by Catherine Zeta-Jones,who wears Katharine Hepburn-style clothes) whose pile of ex-husbands include goofball Howard D. Doyle (played with a hilarious motormouth by Billy Bob Thornton.)

Reuniting with cinematographer Roger Deakins, the Coens frame Miles and Marylin's tug of war romance with a golden glow casting a elegant, refine atmosphere over Miles conflict of putting his divorce lawyer cynicism aside,to take a roll of the dice on either landing on a bubbly romance,or intolerable cruelty.
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7/10
Intolerable Clooney.
anaconda-4065814 September 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Intolerable Cruelty (2003): Dir: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen / Cast: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer: Dark comedy that dances between humour and drama. It contains the wit viewers expect from a Coen brothers film but it hardly compares to superior films such as Blood Simple and The Big Lebowski. George Clooney plays a successful divorce attorney and Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest victim whose husband was caught on camera having an affair. Clooney brought victory to her husband yet she soon marries a millionaire and he sees it as a scam for his money. Very clever but the conclusion is unconvincing due to trust. Joel and Ethan Coen score again thanks to Clooney's charm and Zeta-Jones's unreadable seduction. However, are viewers to believe that this relationship will actually survive? Supporting roles had potential but they are either seldom seen or not necessary. Billy Bob Thornton is underused as the millionaire. Geoffrey Rush as an irate husband is funny yet unnecessary. Cedric the Entertainer is featured as a private investigator out nosing around. Plus his court herring brings more sorrow than humour. On one hand the film features the Coen wit but on the other the humour doesn't excel. Theme questions relationships and trust on the bounds of toleration. Score: 7 / 10
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