Intolerable Cruelty

Intolerable Cruelty ★★½

For some inexplicable reason, the films the Coen Brothers write but don't direct have a tendency to be either shit, or at the very least underwhelming. Remember 2012's art-heist comedy Gambit? Or Angelina Jolie's dreary directorial effort Unbroken? Intolerable Cruelty was meant to join their ranks, originating as a screenplay from two other writers, who the Coens were hired to rewrite for Ron Howard. Howard never directed the movie (Imagine Entertainment still produce though), but the Coens took the reigns- and it feels like the sort of film they wrote but weren't passionate about enough to direct as well, only directing because otherwise their screenplay would be sat on a shelf for years.

This is my second time seeing Intolerable Cruelty. The first time I saw it I thought it was quite funny- and it still has enough chuckle worthy dialogue that reaffirms they are the best in the business (Case in point: "Attilla the Hun, Ivan the Terrible, Henry the Eigth- what do they have in common?" "A Middle name?"). Yet even in the heightened realities of the Coen-verse, Cruelty doesn't ring true; in a movie like Fargo, people made idiotic mistakes with a purpose that has some (ill-informed) logic behind it. Here, people do stupid things constantly, with little or no purpose- is Catherine Zeta Jones really hot to the extent that George Clooney will willingly bankrupt himself just to fleetingly be with her?

Anyways, what I thought was an underrated Coens movie turns out to be a perfectly rated one, a misstep that rightly belongs in the bottom tier of their directorial efforts. Nice cameo from Bruce Campbell as an extra in Billy Bob Thornton's soap opera though.