20161124: Comedy Review--Intolerable Cruelty

Name: Intolerable Cruelty (2003)
IMDb: link to Intolerable Cruelty page

Genres: Comedy.   Country of origin: USA.

Geoffrey Rush as Donovan Donaly, Stacey Travis as Bonnie Donaly, Jack Kyle as Ollie Olerud, Cedric the Entertainer as Gus Petch.

George Clooney as Miles Massey, Edward Herrmann as Rex Rexroth, Jonathan Hadary as Heinz the Baron Krauss von Espy, Paul Adelstein as Wrigley, Tom Aldredge as Herb Myerson.

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marylin, Richard Jenkins as Freddy Bender, Billy Bob Thornton as Howard D. Doyle, Julia Duffy as Sarah Sorkin.

Directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen.  Written by: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone.
the trap

The Three Acts:

The initial tableaux:
1. Donovan interrupts Bonnie cheating on him with Ollie.  Donovan is enraged, and takes gunshots at the cheaters.  Bonnie engages Miles to defend her.  Miles shellacs Donovan, even though Bonnie is more deeply in the wrong.

2. Marylin employs Gus Petch to get damning evidence on her real estate developer husband Rex.  It looks bad for Rex, but Miles digs up the creature who targeted Rex for Marylin.

3. Marylin marries Howard using the Massey prenup, which is supposed to be a strong wall against divorce for the sake of monetary gain.  Marylin finds a way around it.

Delineation of conflicts:
After Marylin successfully fleeces Howard, Miles is drawn to her availability since he finds a void in his life.  Marylin seems sad over Sarah's life, which seems empty despite her great wealth obtained by fleecing three husbands.

So...what will happen after they get married?  Who will prevail in this battle of the fakes?

Resolution: There are several twists and turns in this clever and deeply bitter depiction of love and marriage in Los Angeles and the USA in general.

One line summary: Feelings and money are the stakes.


Cinematography: 9/10 Nicely shot.

Sound: 8/10 The dialog was easy to understand.  The parallel music was usually appropriate to the scenes.

Acting: 8/10 Clooney and Zeta-Jones were fine.  Billy Bob Thornton was fun as usual, had delivered some surprises.  I liked all the minor players.

Screenplay: 10/10 Witty, funny, irreverent.

Final rating: 9/10 Another sweet comedic effort from the Coen Brothers.