Intolerable Cruelty

Stars:   George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, Edward Herrmann, Richard Jenkins, Billy Bob Thornton
Director:   Joel Coen
Screenwriters:   Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone

George Clooney oozes charm and good looks; Catherine Zeta-Jones, grace and beauty. Put them together and you get smashing chemistry. But what starts out as a stylish “screwball comedy” in the best tradition, Intolerable Cruelty hits the skids midway through and never fully recovers. Blame it on the writers; in this case, there’s simply not enough to like about these two connivers to make us care one way or the other if they kill each other or traipse off into the sunset together.

One day, a celebrated but bored and ethically-challenged Beverly Hills divorce attorney Miles Massey (George Clooney) represents wealthy real estate developer Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann) whose infidelity is caught on tape by private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric the Entertainer) for Rexroth’s gorgeous wife Marilyn (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She thinks her case against Rex is a slam-dunk until Massey uncovers some dirt on her, and she ends up broke.

Marilyn quickly remarries, this time to an oil tycoon (Billy Bob Thornton), as part of a plot to get revenge on Miles, who is too fascinated by Marilyn’s sexy demeanor to care that she’s the ultimate man-eater who marries only to get divorced to rake in a fortune.

Lotta says:   Every good joke was given away in the trailers. Clooney goes ape with Miles; Zeta-Jones is refined and calm – one might think a little too calm to fit the genre. But neither lead has a wit of heart or conscience making the romance in this romantic-comedy rather trite. Geoffrey Rush has a nice but too small screwy bit as a TV producer who suffers the Miles consequences. And Cedric the Entertainer is “entertaining” for awhile. It’s rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and brief violence.

Reviewed: 10/10/03