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Tuesday
October 14, 2003
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" Intolerable Cruelty "
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 100 minutes

Overall: 4.5 stars
Acting: 5 stars
Script: 4.5 stars
Cinematography: 3 stars
Musical Score: 4 stars

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Stellar 'Cruelty' brings back screwball comedy

By SHAUN BYRON

The State News

PHOTO COURTESY OF UNIVERSAL

Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney star in the romantic comedy "Intolerable Cruelty," directed by the Coen brothers.

Coming from the Coen brothers, a lighthearted romantic comedy is surprising but great fun.

"Intolerable Cruelty" stars George Clooney as Miles Massey, a popular divorce lawyer who has no ethics. His life is filled with rich clients and high-profile cases, but Massey yearns for something more.

Enter gold digger Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who wants to divorce her rich but cheating husband, Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann). Her attempt at bilking the real-estate tycoon goes smoothly until Massey's skill as a lawyer puts her out on the street.

"Intolerable Cruelty" plays like one of the great screwball romantic comedies Hollywood has forgotten how to make. Ethan and Joel Coen have managed to capture what made those movies so fun to watch. The movie is definitely for fans of movies such as "His Girl Friday," "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer," "Love Crazy" and "Libeled Lady."

The lines in the movie are smart and sexy. When Zeta-Jones and Clooney are on screen, they have definite chemistry, evoking the classic smart-and-sexy male and female roles audiences love to watch. When the characters first meet, Clooney's flippant charm is what attracts not only Zeta-Jones' character but the audience as well.

But lest we forget, this is still a Coen brothers movie, and it has their brand of humor. During a court scene, a woman goes into graphic detail about her husband's sexual habits, which involve elaborate contraptions. While she is going into this graphic description, Clooney is talking to his partner about the lack of love in his life. In between the two lawyers is their client, her husband, sitting embarrassed by what is being told to the court.

Clooney, who is probably the closest actor Hollywood has to a modern-day Cary Grant, is perfect as the suave conman lawyer. His jump from the small screen to the big screen has not been without a few mistakes ("Batman & Robin," "The Peacemaker"), but otherwise, he is one of the best leading men in film today.

Zeta-Jones is riding high from her success in "Chicago." She brings back the Howard Hawks-type of tough woman in this flick. Zeta-Jones plays the tough but sexy female men fall in love with instantly.

"Intolerable Cruelty" proves filmmakers can capture what made the screwball romantic comedies of the past in a bottle and reinterpret them for today's audiences.


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