One Night at McCool’s

Rated: R
Stars:   Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser, John Goodman, Michael Douglas
Director:   Harald Zwart
Writer:   Stan Seidel

Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser, and John Goodman go gaga over a luscious but up-to-no-good Liv Tyler in this kooky comedy. Although a cinematic obsession with Tyler that has her bursting out of her clothes for the better part of two hours has no interest to me, the film does have its moments. And they mostly all have to do with Michael Douglas as a sleazy, pompadour topped, gold chain wearing hit man. He manages to steal the movie.

Matt Dillon plays bartender Randy who saves Jewel (Tyler) from a beating by her vicious, good for nothing boyfriend, Utah (Andrew Dice Clay). He becomes instantly smitten with her and when she discovers he owns the house he lives in, she instantly sees great possibilities for a long term relationship. Jewel’s desire in life is to turn any structure into her dream house. Randy’s rundown Victorian is just the thing.

But the story unfolds through intricate flashbacks as Randy tells seedy hitman Burmeister (Douglas) his tales of woe and why he wants to get rid of the manipulative Jewel. Randy’s cousin Carl (Reiser) spies Jewel one day and he too falls head over heels which leads him to spill his confused guts to psychiatrist Dr. Green, well played by Reba McEntire, of all people. Detective Dehling (John Goodman) comes along to investigate Utah’s death at Randy’s bar and he makes the gaga chorus complete when he tries to rescue poor Jewel from what he comes to believe is verbal and physical abuse perpetrated by Randy. Implicated in murder and theft, thanks to Jewel, Randy tries desperately to skirt Dehling’s investigation but the beefy detective seems to be around every corner, either watching Randy or obsessively spying the sexy Jewel.

The flashbacks continue with Dehling’s account of his involvement as told to his friendly priest.

The film keeps momentum by jumping from flashback to flashback and from the few other jewels it has up its sleeve: Douglas’ Burmeister who manages to turn Randy into a simpering imbecile with a single look and scenes of Carl waiting for a tryst with Jewel as he roams the house wearing S&M gear, including his own dog’s collar. John Goodman fits the bill nicely as the jumbo jerk of the lot.

Lotta says  One Night at McCool’s is a fairly lively romp but for select appetites – preferably for those who like, love or are obsessed with Liv Tyler as much as the director and writer obviously were.

Reviewed 6/1/01