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Melinda Sue Gordon ©

George Clooney portrays a divorce lawyer with eyes for Catherine Zeta-Jones in Intolerable Cruelty, a Coen brothers movie that mimics comedies of the '30s, with a little dark Coen humor tossed in.

Our Rating: B

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Title: Intolerable Cruelty

Rated: PG-13

Rated Reason: for sexual content, language and brief violence

Director: Joel Coen

Producer: Ethan Coen, Brian Grazer

Cast: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, Julia Duffy, Geoffrey Rush

Writer: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone

Time: 1:40

Genre: Comedy

Showtimes for:

AMC Flatiron Crossing 14
12:35, 3:00, 5:25, 7:55, 10:20

Arapahoe Crossing
11:45 am, 12:15, 2:15, 2:45, 4:45, 5:15, 7:15, 7:45, 9:45, 10:15

Bergen Park
4:50, 7:10, 9:15

Bowles Crossing
11:30 am, 12:00, 2:10, 2:40, 4:40, 5:10, 7:20, 7:50, 9:45, 10:10

Century Aurora 16
11:45 am, 2:00, 4:30, 7:00, 9:25

Colony Square
2:10, 4:50, 7:25, 10:00

10:45 am, 1:30, 4:25, 7:25, 10:05

Denver Pavilions
12:00, 2:25, 5:10, 7:55, 10:40

Green Mountain
12:30, 2:55, 5:25, 7:50, 10:15

Greenwood Plaza
11:10 am, 2:00, 5:00, 7:35, 10:05

Highlands Ranch
11:15 am, 1:00, 2:00, 3:45, 4:50, 6:40, 7:40, 9:30, 10:30

10:50 am, 1:30, 4:30, 7:10, 10:00

Olde Town
12:05 am, 11:25 am, 2:10, 4:45, 7:20, 9:55

Seven Hills
4:35, 7:10, 9:40

Twin Peaks
1:50, 4:15, 7:25, 9:55

UA Denver West Village 12
10:40 am, 11:20 am, 1:25, 2:00, 4:00, 4:30, 6:50, 7:30, 9:30, 10:10

UA Village 4
2:00, 4:40, 7:30, 10:00

Westminster Promenade
11:00 am, 12:10, 1:30, 2:40, 4:00, 5:20, 6:30, 8:00, 9:30, 10:40

How would you rate Intolerable Cruelty?
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Your comment:

'Cruelty' most tolerable

Clooney, Zeta-Jones shine for Coen team

By Robert Denerstein, Rocky Mountain News
October 10, 2003

Considering that Intolerable Cruelty tries to mimic the screwball comedies of the '30s - hardly waters in which you'd expect to find the Coen brothers wading - it's surprising how far they get.

Better in its setup than in its resolution, Intolerable Cruelty nonetheless provides laughs and a fine comic performance from George Clooney, as a divorce lawyer who's in love with two things: his very white teeth and the thrill of vanquishing an opponent.

For Clooney's Miles Massey, winning isn't enough: He wants to suck the marrow from his victims' bones.

A predictable plot won't knock anyone off their moorings. Miles handles a divorce that brings him into contact with Marilyn Roxroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She's out to make a dent in her philandering husband's wallet. Miles, who represents the husband (Edward Hermann), wins the case and a pattern of move and counter-move ensues, two vipers doing the tango.

This is pretty conventional material for the Coens, and I'm not going to suggest that Intolerable Cruelty is anywhere near as joyous or original as O Brother, Where Art Thou?

But the Coens do a decent job of adapting to a genre, adding their own tipsy touches. Miles' boss, for example, is a lawyer out of a David Lynch movie. A decrepit old man hooked to a variety of tubes, he talks about the fortunes of the "foim" (his pronunciation). The greedy heart of this money-grubbing operation relies on Miles' considerable cunning.

Joining the Coen team in pursuit of laughs are Cedric the Entertainer (as a private investigator) and Geoffrey Rush (as a man whose wife cheats on him). Blink and you'll miss Rush, who plays a jilted husband and TV producer in the movie's mordant prologue.

Although Intolerable Cruelty qualifies as Coen Brothers Lite, it does boast its share of darkly hued tones. (According to the credits, the script involved other hands and was adapted from a story by a trio of other writers). I could be wrong, but an asthmatic hit man named Wheezy Joe (Irwin Keyes) seemed like a Coen invention.

Detailing and performance (rather than plot) account for this comedy's successes. Billy Bob Thornton, for example, has a very tasty cameo as a naive Texan who, at one point, marries Marilyn.

Zeta-Jones has the two most important qualities for her role. She's drop-dead gorgeous and she knows how to be arch. Of course, she captivates Miles, who's a bit bored with life. After all, how many times can you have your jet waxed?

When it reaches the final stretch, the movie comes up a bit lame. The Coens evidently are better at handling undisguised greed than at nurturing a romance, but I'd still give the movie the benefit of the doubt.

The Coens have created enough laughter to please mainstream audiences and maybe enough weirdness to satisfy their fans. Morevoer, they've assembled their movie in a generally pleasing way.

Dare we say Intolerable Cruelty also has a mild moral? The impenetrable Massey pre-nup aside, love - we learn - involves a willingness to risk maximum exposure.

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