Quirky filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen dive into the polluted matrimonial
waters of Beverly Hills in this romantic collusion with George Clooney and
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
Copyright © 2003 Susan Granger