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Overall Rating

Awesome: 8.64%
Worth A Look32.1%
Just Average: 28.4%
Pretty Crappy: 13.58%
Sucks: 17.28%

6 reviews, 45 user ratings

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Intolerable Cruelty
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by The Ultimate Dancing Machine

"Intolerable Cinema"
2 stars

I'm not a big fan of the Coen brothers, but I do maintain a certain respect for their cerebral, ironic wit and their fine craftsmanship. Very little of either, unfortunately, can be found in INTOLERABLE CRUELTY, an embarrassingly heavy-handed comedy. The film takes a very tired subject--the duplicity of divorce law--and makes it seem even more tired than you thought.

George Clooney plays a divorce lawyer who finds himself drawn to one of his clients, Marylin (Catherine Zeta-Jones), an icy but charming black widow on a continual search for a rich husband. Clooney's a bit of a stiff in this film; he has little to do but flash his pearly-whites at the camera. But Zeta-Jones is one of the few bright spots; she's convincingly two-faced, both pleasantly elegant and forbiddingly distant--you know she's bad news but you can't keep your eyes off her. (Considering her coolly indifferent visage, I have a feeling she'd be in major trouble if she ever wound up doing slasher films. "There's a fellow in the woods with a chainsaw? You don't say...")

But the material simply isn't there. The Coens fill the screen with boring, unfunny caricatures. Many of the secondary roles are quickly defined by their "amusing" quirks (e.g., the hitman with asthma, the trial witness who brings a poodle to the stand) and seldom come off as more than tinnily one-dimensional. Quite a few scenes fail badly--the Coens can't always tell the difference between weird and funny--and in too many places they seemingly try to compensate for the script's general lack of humor with absurdly melodramatic music; it functions here as the laugh-track on a sitcom, cueing the audience to laugh, and the effect is just as silly.

Structurally, the film is uncomfortably chaotic. The problems begin with the opening scene, which is nearly extraneous. (The scene also fails on its own terms; like much of the film, it's not really funny, just shrill and obvious.) It takes an uncomfortably long time before it becomes clear who the principals are supposed to be.

Aside the Zeta-Jones' charms, the only elements that save INTOLERABLE from total disaster are some clever plot turns toward the end, when the film starts looking like a reasonably accomplished takeoff on DANGEROUS LIAISONS, and a refreshingly cynical view of the marriage ritual. But the movie tells you practically nothing you haven't heard many times before. When Clooney goes into his sleazy-lawyer act, it's a bit like hearing jokes about Nixon--it's just old.

Not altogether worthless, but I have to wonder if the title really refers to the characters' actions--or the experience of watching them.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8243&reviewer=223
originally posted: 10/10/03 22:22:06
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User Comments

9/17/08 Stu Some good dialouge and Clooneys charm make this Hollywoodised Coen Bros. film watchable. 3 stars
11/16/06 Alyssa Hale Total Crap! Nothing more to say! 1 stars
3/22/06 R.W.Welch Passable comedy but lacks the early Coen off-the-wall flair. 3 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands An immense amount of charm from the two stars, but the Coens are beginning a descent. 4 stars
8/14/05 Charlene Javier What a disappointment! 2 stars
8/01/05 Bad Critic Who really gives a crap about a couple spoiled retards who only care about money? 2 stars
4/17/05 Jeff Anderson Has it's cruel mind in the gutter. A sad & pathetic waste of time & unfunny to boot. 1 stars
12/08/04 Kristina Williams Clooney's smooth a hell 4 stars
11/26/04 alien assassin I've been workin' on the railroad !!! 4 stars
10/23/04 NJ Cup Winner 95-00-03 Clooney is doing Cary Grant, and that's quite a feat. Great flick! 5 stars
10/04/04 Josh Standlee I laughed so hard that at times I was fighting for air! Hilarious! 5 stars
9/25/04 VIctor Not a fan of Clooney but he's very good in this usually-funny satire; CZJ just okay 4 stars
9/05/04 psycho dwarf Like bike-race spectators you wait for long periods til the fun parts come & go too quickly 3 stars
8/19/04 Kaylee Lover Give me a break, a wasted 1.5 hours 2 stars
7/23/04 Jerry&Joan An unbelievable waste of time-This can only happen when actors are under contact. 1 stars
7/23/04 Sandy Turynowicz lots of laughs 4 stars
4/18/04 Martin Meant to be an over the top caricature. Most don't get it. Very funny if you are cynical. 5 stars
4/05/04 Agent Sands Story gets pretty contrived, but Clooney is one hilarious dude. Coens are slowly decreasing 3 stars
3/28/04 HorrorScribbler Not top-notch Coen brothers, but still pretty good. 4 stars
2/21/04 Mindy This movie was by far the biggest waste of my time in a while! I should've been paid. 1 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva funny 3 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody A bit of fun 4 stars
11/26/03 Wendy Sue VERY funny in it's odd Coen way, just not alot of depth 4 stars
11/12/03 Helen Bradley slow pace 2 stars
11/11/03 Chris I like it but the film tired too much and we never feel Clooney and Zeta-Jones romance. 3 stars
11/08/03 Eddie Fan Worst movie ever made. Fucking boring waste of money. Zeta Jones can't act! 1 stars
11/06/03 Cameron Slick While not one of the Coen's better work, it's a worthwile entertaining goofball romantic. 4 stars
11/04/03 John Bale Cary Grant like Clooney and stunning Zeta Jones mix in Coen Bros magic. Much fun ! 5 stars
11/02/03 wrob Occasionally funny, but mediocre overall 2 stars
10/31/03 alien assassin Anyone who calls this film crap must be joking. Why don't you grow out of "Jackass" !!!!! 5 stars
10/30/03 Catherine Zeta Jones thinks her Welsh shit doesn't stink! (I can say that because I'm Welsh too.) 3 stars
10/30/03 Natasha Bly Guys in cast do best to pull humor out of harrowing subject; CZJ is her usual gigabrat. 3 stars
10/23/03 Jason King Found Clooney's mugging hilarious in its overstatement. One of the best movies of the year. 5 stars
10/22/03 DeeDee I watched it today and it was a waste of my money. It sucked big time. 1 stars
10/19/03 TheOthersFan if nothing else, a refreshing departure from the conventional romantic comedy formula 4 stars
10/18/03 Titus Not a worthy Cohen bros outing, but the stars are fun to watch. Worth matinee prices. 3 stars
10/16/03 no2coen Run! Run away. 1 stars
10/16/03 cpbjr Worth watching CZJ and GC 3 stars
10/15/03 Angry Black Man beautiful looking cast, but so-so movie. 3 stars
10/13/03 Lord Jiggy Enjoyed it a lot, a nice surprise. Clooney worked for me, so did the weird characters. 4 stars
10/13/03 harpoonflyby funnier than all hell. story sucked 4 stars
10/12/03 Ida A cute movie 4 stars
10/12/03 KCobain Horrid 1 stars
10/10/03 Michael Fantastically charming and wacky rom-com with an edge, & Clooney's best performance ever 5 stars
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  10-Oct-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Feb-2004



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