2 Stars Movies

The chemistry only goes one way in The Coen Brothers’ Intolerable Cruelty

Intolerable Cruelty is usually found at or near the bottom of Best-to-Worst films by the Coen Brothers:

You get the idea. But Intolerable Cruelty is the movie for you if what you’ve always wanted is a modern-day Cary Grant-type romantic comedy in which two opposites fall reluctantly in love, seasoned with dashes of that unmistakable Coen flavor:

  • slapstick ultraviolence: A grotesque giant accidentally shoots himself in the mouth, and it’s played for laughs.
  • creepy weirdness: The nightmarish boss from hell is straight out of an old Sam Raimi movie.
  • basement humor: This screenplay’s idea of witty banter is to have everybody say “nail your ass” over and over. A lot.

It’s biggest failing is that the chemistry between the leads only goes one way. Whether by design or Catherine Zeta-Jones’ blank performance, George Clooney plays smitten kitten to her ice queen. Clooney falls all over her, mugging like a madman (as if he were doing an impression of Jim Carrey, come to think of it), while she looks mildly bored at best.

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