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Intolerable Cruelty (Widescreen Edition) (2003)

A movie directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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Yawn, Yawn, Yawn…Someone Wake Me When It’s Over!

  • Apr 26, 2004
  • by
Pros: Great ensemble of actors

Cons: BORING!!!!!

The Bottom Line: Any movie that bores me enough to put me to sleep cannot score a recommendation no matter the talent adorning the silver screen.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

Somewhere between the ho-hum script, the (just) okay directing, the tolerable acting and the editing Intolerable Cruelty lost its allure and put me to sleep. Despite the now legendary writing and directing talents of the Coen Brothers, the dashing good looks of George Clooney, comics styling of Cedric the Entertainer, and the undeniable sex appeal and beauty of Catherine Zeta-Jones, this movie—Intolerable Cruelty—could not be saved from itself. I found Intolerable Cruelty to be an insufferable bore; so much so, that literally it put me to sleep a half way through.

The Plot:

Intolerable Cruelty is the latest film from the now legendary Coen brothers (Fargo, Ladykillers, and O’ Brother, Where Art Thou). The movie re-teams the brothers with the star of their surprising hit movie O Brother Where Art Thou, George Clooney. Intolerable Cruelty follows the shenanigans of hotshot Beverly Hills divorce lawyer Miles Massey (George Clooney), the nation's leading divorce attorney, who is bored with his continued success and wants a real challenge. So on top of his game is he, that he even created the ultimate prenuptial agreement, "the Massey Prenup," and it's so ironclad there's a course devoted to it at Harvard Law School. His challenge appears in the form of the stunning Marilyn Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the jaded wife of one of Massey’s clients (Edward Herrmann), a wealthy real estate developer whose nocturnal indiscretions are caught on tape. Of course the question comes immediately to mind: why would any man fool around on the likes of Marilyn? But…

Marilyn and her attorney (Cedric the Entertainer), certain of a lucrative judgment in their favor, are stunned when Massey (who is known in legal circles for his ability to convince juries to give his clients, all too often the guilty parties in breakups the lion's share of the settlement, despite their obvious and documented marital misdeeds), works his courtroom magic and prevails, leaving her quite broke. Determined to rebound, Marilyn snags an oil tycoon (Billy Bob Thornton), which in turn is all part of her plan to revenge herself on Massey. Meanwhile Massey, whose is a cynic when it comes to relationships and marriage, finds himself fatalistically attracted to Marilyn, playing of course into her hands. Trouble is, Cupid's love soaked arrow flies both ways—and Marilyn finds herself falling for Massey. Familiar theme, no big surprises here folks.

Although strong lead characters are the heart of Intolerable Cruelty, Clooney, Zeta-Jones, Thornton, and even Cedric The Entertainer are not up to the task, the movie falls far short of the entertainment mark. Or is it rather the script lets them down? Clooney’s comic timing is off, way off, and his lines are delivered with an unconvincing air that makes his character unbelievable. Zeta-Jones is of course stunningly beautiful having gotten back down to fighting weight after recently giving birth. Her performance is okay, but certainly nothing to phone home about by any measure.

In my mind this is the first looser film for the Coen brothers; their remarkable zany take on life was asleep during the filming of Intolerable Cruelty. Or perhaps it was awake but unwilling to give us the full measure of its attention. Whatever the reason Intolerable Cruelty misses the mark by a wide margin. Any movie that bores me enough to put me to sleep cannot score a recommendation no matter the talent adorning the silver screen.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Intolerable Cruelty reviews
review by . February 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
You know you can have the Coen's make a movie as mediocre as this and have one of the oldest jokes in existence that you can call a mile away and it still made me laugh as two idiots spray each other in the face with repellent while sneaking around in the dark.  That takes some talent and I think most of this movies talent quote went into that one scene.      Intolerable Cruelty must be the Coen's most mainstream movie due largely to it's casting which is a sign …
review by . March 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
What if the Coen Brothers gave a movie and nobody came? Oh, sure, they had big-name stars--Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones. But no John Turturro, no John Goodman, no Steve Buscemi, no Frances McDormand! I didn't watch this movie when it first came out, because it was the type of romantic comedy that I usually choose to avoid, and when I got to this place in my race through the Coen Brothers catalog, I didn't realize what it was until my wife said, "Why did you get this movie from Netflix?" with …
Quick Tip by . February 18, 2011
Slick super lawyer and a cold hearted gold digger start a relationship. Full of the Coen Brother's tics and style and that starts to work against it, not to mention the dated casting but I do like the idea of the movie.
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie


A sleek George Clooney and a seductive Catherine Zeta-Jones square off magnificently in the divorce comedyIntolerable Cruelty. The plot is simple: Lawyer supreme Miles Massey (Clooney,Out of Sight,Ocean's Eleven) skillfully outmaneuvers gold-digger Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones,Chicago,Traffic) when she divorces her wealthy husband--and she sets out to get revenge. But this movie comes from the creative minds of the Coen Brothers (Fargo,Raising Arizona,O Brother Where Art Thou?), and soIntolerable Crueltyincludes a Scottish wedding chapel in Vegas, an asthmatic hit man, fluffy-dog-stroking European nobility, and a legendarily unbreakable pre-nuptial agreement. Still, it's pretty restrained for the Coens; smooth and consistent, it never stumbles as disappointingly as their movies can, but also never quite hits the operatic pitch of their best work. It's still damn funny, though, with top-notch performances from the leads as well as Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer, and Billy Bob Thornton.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: October 10, 2003
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: February 10, 2004
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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