George Clooney as Miles Massey
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Marylin Rexroth
Geoffrey Rush as Donovan Donaly
Cedric the Entertainer as Gus Petch
Edward Hermann as Rex Rexroth
Paul Adelstein as Wrigley
Richard Jenkins as Freddy Bender
Billy Bob Thornton as Howard D Doyle
Julia Duffy as Sarah Sorkin
Jonathan Hadary as Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy
Tom Aldredge as Herb Myerson
Stacey Travis as Bonnie Donaly
Jack Kyle as Ollie Olerud
Irwin Keyes as Wheezy Joe
Judith Drake as Mrs. Gutman
The Coen Brothers return to the silver screen with a battle of the sexes tale centered on the America’s other national pastime – divorce. While more accessible in some instances than most Coen Brothers’ romps, Intolerable Cruelty is a fun, twisting ride through the bank accounts of rich, unexpected dolts everywhere.
Clooney portrays Miles Massey, a prominent Los Angeles divorce attorney who has everything. Despite his impressive client list, a formidable win record, the respect of his peers and an ironclad contract (the ‘Massey pre-nup’) named after him, he’s reached a crossroads in his life. Sated on success, boredom has set in and he’s looking for new challenges.
All that changes when Miles meets his match in the devastating Marylin Rexroth (Zeta-Jones). Marylin is the soon-to-be ex-wife of his client Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann), a wealthy real estate developer and habitual philanderer. With the help of hard charging private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric The Entertainer), she has Rex nailed and is looking forward to the financial independence a successful divorce will bring. But thanks to Miles’ considerable skills, she ends up with nothing.
Not to be outdone, Marylin schemes to get even and as part of her plan, quickly marries oil tycoon Howard Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton). Miles and his unflappable associate, Wrigley, unwittingly dig themselves in deeper and deeper as they go head-to-head with Marylin. Underhanded tactics, deceptions and an undeniable attraction escalate as Marylin and Miles square off in this classic battle of the sexes.
Intolerable Cruelty is rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and brief violence
Props to Clooney and Zeta-Jones first off. The chemistry between the two is great and adds to the delicate balance of their relationship. In a lot of ways, Clooney is playing a version of his Ulysses Everett McGill from his other Coen Brothers film O’ Brother Where Art Thou? Both Massey and McGill are gifted wordsmiths with a vanity streak – McGill’s hair is Massey’s teeth. Both characters are smooth operators with a knack for getting their respective parties out of ‘tough spots.’
Zeta-Jones is dazzling as the money-grubbing Marylin. She is the perfect blend of sex, vulnerability and USDA ‘Grade A’ bitch.
The supporting cast is strong as ever, with notables being Billy Bob Thornton’s oil millionaire without a clue Doyle and Cedric the Entertainer’s Gus “I’m Gonna Nail Your Ass” Petch as the anything-for-a-buck private dick. Honorable mention has to go to Irwin Keyes’ hit man Wheezy Joe – a great Coens creation that meets with one of the most unfortunate ends I’ve seen on film in a while.
What Didn’t Work:
Well, it’d be hard not to say that the story here is far-fetched – most Coens movies are. I felt there might have been one twist too many towards the end of the film… too much screen time given to the impenetrable Massey pre-nup. But that is really nit picking.
Go see Intolerable Cruelty and enjoy the greed!