Intolerable Cruelty


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"...the movie is anything but Intolerable Cruelty."



Intolerable Cruelty
The Masked Reviewer

Don't confuse the Cohen Brothers (the writing/directing team that brought you such films as Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink, Fargo, and O Brother Where Art Thou?) with the Farrelly Brothers (the writing/directing team that brought you Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary, Me, Myself, and Irene, and Shallow Hal).  Sure, they're both teams of brothers, but the kind of films they do are decidedly different from each other.  Ethan and Joel Cohen (not Peter and Bobby Farrelly) are the team behind Intolerable Cruelty, but if you can't tell the style of these filmmakers apart, you should probably stick with CNN.

Of course, there's also Andy and Larry Wachowski, the brother team behind such films as Assassins, Bound and the Matrix films...but they, too, aren't who we're talking about.

Intolerable Cruelty brings Catherine Zeta-Jones together with George Clooney.  In case you missed it, Clooney worked with the Cohen brothers in O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000).  The cast also includes Billy Bob Thornton (or the ex-Mr. Angelina Jolie), Geoffrey Rush (if he hasn't won an Academy Award(tm) yet, he probably will...he's British.  Oh wait, he's Australian.  Close enough), and Cedric the Entertainer (it's always a good practice to change your name to what you do for a living...the Masked Reviewer thinks so, at least).

The Cohen Brothers have a certain style that some people love.  The Masked Reviewer is one of those people.  All of their films have a distinctive feel in terms of dialogue, cinematography, pacing, and humor.  Intolerable Cruelty isn't as off-the-wall wacky as some of their other films, such as Barton Fink; the humor is a bit more main stream.  But, it works splendidly. 

It's sad, though, because with a title like Intolerable Cruelty, it'd be so easy to come up with mean little sound bites.  Unfortunately, the movie is anything but Intolerable Cruelty, although it does drag a bit in the middle. 

Fortunately, the performances are enormously entertaining, led by George Clooney.  He delivers a quirky and comical performance that is fun every second he's on screen.  If you loved him in O Brother, you'll find a lot to love in this role as well.  Catherine Zeta-Jones (how come she isn't Catherine Zeta-Jones-Douglas or Catherine Zeta-Douglas or Catherine Jones-Douglas?  She's got so many names now, what's one more?) is captivating and...gorgeous.  It'd be fine to just stare at her for a few hours on screen, but her performance is as good as she's ever been.

Cedric the Entertainer (who used to be Cedric the Insurance Salesman before he found his niche) has a small supporting role, as do Billy Bob Thornton and Geoffrey Rush.  All three make the most of their screen time and give memorable, funny performances.

The story is fairly simple, though it does bog down a bit in the middle.  It's also not a terribly plausible love story.  Not that much is ever terribly plausible in a Cohen Brothers' movie, but things just sort of happen at the end that weren't built-up well enough.  Even so, the story is interesting.

The humor is great, and the Cohen Brothers seem to have made attempts to find a wider audience with a wider variety of humorous situations.  They won't alienate their fans with this film, as it is still chock full of Cohen Brother quirkiness.  Cedric the Entertainer provides some laughs, as does a courtroom scene reminiscent of Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First?"

Tom Aldredge gives a memorable supporting role as the elder partner in George Clooney's law firm.  Strangely, even though Tom Aldredge has been working for more than forty years and even though he looks familiar, the Masked Reviewer can't recall a single film that he's seen Mr. Aldredge in.  Hopefully that will change in the future.

If you love George Clooney, you'll have great fun with him in this film, especially if you enjoyed O Brother, Where Art Thou?  If you like wacky, nutty, unusual movies, this one will make you happy.  If you're looking for a movie like Dumb and Dumber, keep looking, this is much more cerebral.  The bottom line is that fans of the Cohen Brothers' other films will be quite happy with this one, but if you don't like their films, you may want to pass on this one.


Expectation from the Title: A film about a man who was forced to watch Gigli from beginning to end as punishment for a quadruple homicide.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones make a cute couple, they really seem to like each other.

The Pros: Off-beat sense of humor, unusual style, some terrifically funny moments.

The Cons: A bit slow in the middle, the love story isn't built-up strongly enough to be believable.


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