Intolerable Cruelty

As one-joke films go, it’s not bad: hot-shot divorce lawyer falls in love with serial fortune-hunter, and they begin a merry dance that will eventually lead them into each other’s arms. I’m sure it would have made a charming 1950s romantic comedy with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. The Coen brothers, however, have managed to turn this promising idea into a stilted, passionless slapstick. In their drive to show how crafty and scheming the two protagonists are, they fail to build any sympathy for them. There is on-screen chemistry between George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones, but I couldn’t see any reason to care about it. This is what happens when you take “quirky” and “clever” a couple of steps too far. Entertaining and funny, but lacking in warmth and wisdom.