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Intolerable Cruelty

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Intolerable Cruelty

Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Joel Coen
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: October 2003
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Julia Duffy, Paul Adelstein, Mia Cottet, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Michael A. Tessiero, John Bliss, Stacey Travis

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Quirky filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen dive into the polluted matrimonial waters of Beverly Hills in this romantic collusion with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Clooney plays Miles Massey, a suave divorce attorney who continually obsesses over his pearly white teeth, while Zeta-Jones is beautiful Marylin Rexroth, a sexy, gold-digging serial divorcee. When Miles' underhanded courtroom tactics cost Marilyn a hefty settlement, she's surprisingly calm. Her Shakespearean barbs and unflappable one-upsmanship demeanor intrigue Miles, particularly when she unexpectedly hires him to write an ironclad pre-nup for her next marriage to a Texas oil billionaire (Billy Bob Thornton). Miles thinks he's clever and calculating, but he's met his conniving match in Marylin. That's all I'll reveal about her surprising revenge.

The eccentric Coen humor - which was far more wry, sardonic and darkly edged in "Raising Arizona," "The Big Lebowski" and "Fargo" - is broader and more conventional here, perhaps due to the screenwriting input of Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone. Consider "The War of the Roses" run-in-reverse - the divorce preceding the romantic entanglement - with Clooney evoking the comedic memory of Cary Grant. Remember the Coens' previous Clooney collaboration in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" And there's more evidence when supporting players like Geoffrey Rush and Cedric the Entertainer are as top-notch as Clooney and exquisite Catherine Zeta-Jones.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Intolerable Cruelty" is a ruthlessly funny, farcical 8. It's just a shame that so much of this screwball battle-of-the-sexes romp was revealed in the TV commercials and theatrical trailer.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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