In Harald Zwart's film noir comedy, ONE NIGHT AT MCCOOL'S, Liv Tyler plays a
Lauren Bacall-type character known as Jewel Valentine. Jewel is a scam
artist who steals men's hearts and homes. With wonderfully revealing
dresses -- too revealing in the case of her surprisingly knobby knees -- she
takes men's breath away. The camera has a love affair with her as well,
pausing to soak up her reflected beauty whenever she enters a new man's
life. The picture's most memorable sequence has her washing her car like a
sex toy in something approximating a clothed version of a Playboy video.
Water, she confides, is her second favorite thing in the world. The men are
absolutely delighted to find out what's number one on her hit parade.
The story is told from the differing perspectives of three of the many males
who orbit around her as their sexual sun. Each of them tells their story in
flashback to someone else. The main story concerns a bartender aptly named
Randy (Matt Dillon), a happy-go-lucky sort who thinks he has gone to heaven
when he first spies Jewel in a tart red dress. Randy tells his tale of woe
at a cheap bingo parlor to a sleazy man named Mr. Burmeister (Michael
Douglas looking like Joe Pesci having a very bad hair day). Douglas's
bouffant beehive turns out to be the funniest part of the picture.
Randy's cousin Carl (Paul Reiser), a cocksure lawyer who brags to everyone
he meets that he is a partner in the second biggest law firm in the state,
tells his story to his new psychiatrist (Reba McEntire). An obnoxious
married man with two kids, he thinks that he is irresistible to females.
Finally, a love-struck Detective Dehling (John Goodman) confesses his
transgressions to an almost panting Father Jimmy (Richard Jenkins) who
drinks out of the communion chalice while hearing all of the sordid details
of the detective's trysts. When the detective isn't pining for Jewel, he
investigates the murders that keep cropping up around her.
Although the movie does have its moments, it is an uneven and fairly
forgettable comedy that produces only sporadic laughter. There's no reason
to see it, but, if you do go, you'll probably have a decent time. Whatever
you do, don't make a trip to the concession stand until you've enjoyed the
car wash sequence.
ONE NIGHT AT MCCOOL'S runs 1:33. It is rated R for violence, sexuality and
language and would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes