Intolerable Cruelty

Intolerable Cruelty ★★★

A likable, if unexceptional screwball comedy set in the present day. (It's the first Coens movie that isn't a period piece. Well, maybe "Blood Simple" wasn't.) It's all done in the spirit of a classic adversarial romance. It starts off a little slow, looking like the product of a journeyman, rent-a-helmer, instead of America's most brilliant director team.

Eventually, the film hits its stride, showing Miles Massey (Clooney) as a hotshot lower in transition, perhaps softening up. Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones) is a man-eater who looks for rich, dopey husbands in order to divorce them and collect half of their shit.

The two are very effective together: Clooney has outstanding comic timing for such a handsome man, and his rapport with Wrigley (Adelstein), his assistant, is very amusing. It has a classic Hollywood look, especially Zeta-Jones, who is as stunning as ever. Her visage alone is truly reason enough to watch.

It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as I had hoped, but it's witty and interesting, and has lots of twists and turns toward the end. It doesn't feel like a Coen Bros. film; it's far too mainstream. But as far as a standard comedy goes, it's passable. Not a knockout, but not bad.