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.
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.