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Intolerable Cruelty (2003)


They cant keep their hands off each others assets.

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 100 minutes

UK Certificate: 12A

The Coen brothers have asked us to swallow some far-fetched plot-hooks in their time, but expecting us to believe that someone like Catherine Zeta-Jones would EVER marry a wrinkly semi-cretinous bed-hopper REALLY takes the biscuit. Puh-leeze. As if.

In ‘Intolerable Cruelty’, CZJ plays Marilyn, a professional man-eater who uses her Welsh charms to dupe loaded nice-but-dim-types into marrying her, before filing for divorce and taking them for all they’re worth. Or half of it, at least.

George Clooney, who’s swiftly evolving into a self-styled poor man’s Cary Grant, hams it up big style as Miles Massey, the slick divorce lawyer who becomes enraptured by this beautiful marriage mercenary. So much so, in fact, that he comes over all lovey-dovey and tries to dump his cynical ways in favour of a quick-fire wedding and – hopefully – long-lasting love with the object of his desires. But has Marilyn really changed her ways, or is Miles simply the biggest sucker of the lot? Go on, take a guess.

Featuring among its self-consciously oddball components an asthmatic hitman (Irwin Keyes), an implausibly old guy (Tom Aldredge) and a camp European Baron (Jonathan Hadary), there’s a forced feeling to most of the comedy which slightly overshadows the passable performances of the two leads. Most of it is just silly enough to hold the attention, but its promise largely fizzles out and watching each scene starts to seem like a bit of a chore.

Where usually the largely over-rated Coens are guilty of trying far too hard to be clever, this mild romantic whimsy sees them trying even harder to deliver a classy screwball comedy. Whether it’s a deliberate attempt to go all “mainstream” on us is anyone’s guess but, regardless of the film’s intentions, it only works well in dribs and drabs.

It's Got: Cedric the Entertainer saying “nail” and “ass” a lot.

It Needs: Some well-scripted funnies to bring the best out of all that well-meaning but largely ineffective quirkiness.


A break from the norm for the Coen boys, but this so-so attempt at an old-school screwballer only just manages pass marks.