October 17, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 27  

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Mackin'it up with Intolerable Cruelty

Intolerable Cruelty
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen

By Myles DeRosse
Gazette Staff


Gazette file photo
SEXUAL TENSION AT ITS CLIMAX. Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney showcase their seemingly sadistic nature in the Coen Brothers’ latest film, Intolerable Cruelty.

When the genius Coen brothers, known for fantastic flicks such as Fargo and The Big Lebowski, came out with a new movie, who would've ever guessed they would tackle the genre of romantic comedy?

Well, in their latest flick, Intolerable Cruelty, that's exactly what they did.

The story starts with big-shot divorce lawyer Miles Massey (Clooney) realizing he is bored stiff with his job and in turn with his life. Just as things start to get really bad for Massey, he has to defend a rich client against a gold-digging wife who is trying to take everything from him; the client's wife also has a lot of evidence against the "cheating bastard." The whole case leads to another problem for Massy: the first time he lays eyes on this woman, he falls in love.

The movie then follows Massey trying to court his newfound love and the many ways Marilyn (Zeta-Jones) finds to continuously knock him down.

The performances by Clooney and Zeta-Jones are, by all means, amazing. Nobody can pull off the confident and fast-talking lawyer as humorously as Clooney, while Zeta-Jones works wonders as a beautiful yet ruthless woman trying to get it all.

Although the acting by the major stars is fantastic, it is the smaller parts in the film that steal the show.

Cedric the Entertainer has a hilarious role as a private investigator that swears if you're doing something wrong, he's gonna "nail ya ass" and let you know how bad he just "nailed ya ass." Plus, Billy-Bob Thorton plays to perfection a gullible oil tycoon who is used as a pawn in the mind games between Miles and Marilyn.

Even with these great actors delivering stellar performances, the movie is still a romantic comedy. However, Intolerable Cruelty does not follow the general template used by most romantic comedies. The Coen Brothers find ways to include multiple twists and sharp turns that are actually believable and advance the story in a humorous way.

There are also many crazy characters (probably to be expected since the movie is set in California -just look at the new Governor) that keep the story from getting dull, including an asthmatic hit man named Wheezy Joe. The movie is full of one-liners that will actually make you laugh out loud.

Even though everything about the movie is pulled off flawlessly, some of the Coen brothers' magic is missing; Cruelty does not seem to be in the same league as all of the brothers' previous films. In their first attempt to make a mainstream movie, it seems they must have had to compromise some of their artistic talent to worry about making a movie that would break the box office. Although Intolerable Cruelty is not quite what you might expect from the Coen brothers, it's still one of the best romantic comedies made in recent years.

While the movie may be in a genre synonymous with "chick flicks," Intolerable Cruelty is definitely much more than that and it deserves to be the Coen brothers' box office breaker.



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