Movie Review
Intolerable Cruelty
Intolerable Cruelty poster
By Greg Ward     Published October 12, 2003
US Release: October 10, 2003

Directed by: Joel Coen Ethan Coen
Starring: George Clooney , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Geoffrey Rush , Billy Bob Thornton

Running Time: 100 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $35,159,000
Never before have I loathed the two main characters of a film as much as I did with these two.
?Intolerable Cruelty? has to be the biggest disappointment of the year for me. When I saw the trailer for it, I found myself laughing, and the presence of the astonishingly gorgeous and talented Catherine Zeta-Jones excited me. Add in the fact that the Coen Brothers are involved, and I?m there. When you hear these names, you expect a filmgoing experience that to enjoy ? in this case, it is one to dread.

Miles Massey (Clooney) is a successful Beverly Hills divorce attorney who has yet to lose a case. He meets his match, however, with the strikingly beautiful Marilyn Rexroth (Zeta-Jones), a woman who makes a habit out of marrying men and then divorcing them in order to cash in on the divorce settlements. When Massey helps her latest victim (Edward Herrmann) avoid paying her off, she seeks revenge, making Massey her next potential victim; the only thing is, she begins to fall in love with him (Uh-huh).

I have many gripes about this film: first off, the characters are extremely unlikable ? there is nothing about ANY character in this film that makes me sympathetic to them at all. When they have reached the final outcome, I don?t even care anymore ? throughout the film I was very bored with them. Miles Massey and Marilyn Rexroth have to be two of the most uninteresting characters ever put on the movie screen; never before have I loathed the two main characters of a film as much as I did with these two.

The writing in this film is also pitiful. When I think of a film written by the Coen Brothers, I think of a film with witty dialogue that is fresh and at times extremely ironic and wicked. The addition of two other writers, however, really brought this film down. Aren?t the Coen Brothers sharp enough to handle a screenplay on their own?

This question has haunted me ever since the opening credits showed the addition of Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone to the writing credits ? who are they to interfere? They truly bring down what might have been a decent screenplay and make it too silly and stupid for its own good. Sure, there are a few funny one-liners, yet none of them are even truly memorable.

My biggest disappointment, however, is Catherine Zeta-Jones. After an astonishing performance in ?Chicago? and a well-deserved Oscar, she truly strikes out with this film. Her character is so ruthless, so shallow and unlikable that I must say I expected a lot more from her. The camera focuses so much on here throughout the film, endlessly showing how beautiful she is, but nothing is done to develop her character into one I actually cared about.

I also found her performance to be on the lines of hers in ?American Sweethearts,? which was a performance I really did not care for. Here, she is just Catherine Zeta-Jones reciting dialogue ? she never shows true feeling, therefore making her character boring, unlikable, and unable to watch at times; and what about poor George Clooney? I am really beginning not to like him as an actor. I feel as if he plays the same character in every movie he is in ? he has the same obnoxious look on his face in every film and it is really beginning to get on my nerves.

Here, Clooney plays a despicable character so poorly developed that we don?t care about him at all. Similar to Zeta-Jones?s character, there is nothing about him that is likable. And let me make a note to say that Geoffrey Rush and Cedric the Entertainer, two actors extremely talented in different ways, are wasted with horrible dialogue and don?t even seem to be necessary to the story. The relationship between Marilyn and Miles is also poorly developed and completely unrealistic. Not once during this film did I ever want these despicable characters to end up together.

From the contents of this review, it may sound as if I think it to be the worst movie ever made. The truth is that it isn?t, as there are many films worse; however, there are a lot of films that are better. Considering the talent involved, I expected more, but what can I say ? you can?t strike gold all of the time.
Greg's Grade: D+
Greg's Overall Grading: 25 graded movies
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'Intolerable Cruelty' Articles
  • Stephen's review C
    October 13, 2003    An overly silly and unfulfilling film which sadly leads to a disappointing experience. -- Stephen Lucas