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INTOLERABLE CRUELTY

A wealthy Beverly Hills divorce lawyer who loves women—as many as possible, as often as possible—tangles with a scheming divorcee who loves money—as much as she can get, any way she can get it.

CAST: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer, Julia Duffy, Michael A. Tesserio

DIRECTOR: Joel Coen

"Hilariously overblown, ‘Cruelty’ fairly pops at the seams with the beloved eccentricity of Joel and Ethan Coen, from the fiendishly ludicrous scenarios and casually tossed off visual gags to the razor-sharp repartee. The Coens' gleefully vicious take on the age-old battle of the sexes harks back to the screwball comedies of Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges -- and owes much of its pizzazz to the spark-plug pairing of George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones." --Megan Lehmann, The New York Post

"Set in a broad caricature of Los Angeles populated by gold-digging women who schedule lunches around injections of ‘butt fat’ in the face and by the philandering old moneybags who love them, ‘Cruelty’ is an equal-opportunity offender. Women, who are almost exclusively portrayed as schemers and bimbos, don't fare well in the Coen brothers' jaundiced view of the battle of the sexes, but neither do men, who largely come across as clueless boors or buffoonish sex fiends…But in its nasty, blackhearted take on contemporary coupling and uncoupling, ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ has the distant though unmistakable ring of truth." Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post

"… something not seen in movie theaters for a long time: an intelligent, modern screwball comedy, a minor classic on the order of competent, fast-talking curve balls about deception and greed like Mitchell Leisen's ‘Easy Living’ and Billy Wilder's ‘Major and the Minor’…It's a movie about underhanded professionals by filmmakers who delight in the epitome of criminal enterprise…The Coens, bless their hearts, are too smart to apologize for avarice — it's what gave screwball comedies a kick, and sends this movie straight to your head…the second word in the title is a little too apt; this movie should pack a license to kill." --Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"The drop-dead-gorgeous duo of Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney are in the classic mold of larger-than-life movie stars, something current cinema rarely provides. Their sex appeal, considerable chemistry and strong comic timing keep the thin story humming along cheerfully enough, despite the predictability of the gags…Several supporting roles threaten to steal the show. Cedric the Entertainer is gut-busting as Gus, a one-trick private eye, and Billy Bob Thornton is a hoot as a gabby millionaire oil man. But Jonathan Hadary is perhaps the most hilarious as the loose-lipped concierge, Baron Krauss von Espy…Not brilliantly funny nor incisively clever, Intolerable Cruelty is still moderately satirical and laugh-out-loud enjoyable." --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"Hyperactivity and pseudo-suaveness -- that's all Clooney has to offer in this mish-mash, with nothing in between…The Coen brothers may want Clooney to be a screwball Cary Grant incarnate. But Clooney displayed more Grant-like charm and potency when he did ‘Three Kings’ (for director David O. Russell), ‘Out of Sight’ (for Steven Soderbergh) and ‘One Fine Day’ (for Michael Hoffman). What the Coens get out of Clooney is a weirdly misfiring facsimile of Grant… Zeta-Jones is both a lush beauty and a savvy comedian. She seduces the audience partly because she makes it seem as if she's not even trying…Her erotic authority overpowers Clooney's." --Michael Sragow, The Baltimore Sun

" ‘Cruelty’ is elegant, cheerfully cynical fun of the kind we used to get regularly from Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks and other masters of the classic Hollywood screwball comedy -- all those '30s-'40s movies about rich people sloshed, or acting crazy and running romantically amok…It's an amusingly exaggerated world where sex is the bait, money is the reward, and love is what smart guys and gals try to avoid…Screwball comedy is a matter of characters, style, pace and great lines; ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ has them all." --Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

"A goofy, sharp-tongued romantic sparring session, ‘Intolerable Cruelty’ harks back to the screwball comedies of the 1930s… Clooney and Zeta-Jones are supremely stunning, and nimble enough to toss off the Coens' constant inside jokes with assured good humor. Perhaps most important, they make what could have been an insufferably forced, self-conscious and cynical movie into something sweet, self-effacing and wry." --Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"‘Intolerable Cruelty’ is a screwball black comedy, reflecting both the style of Preston Sturges and the tone of ‘War of the Roses,’ with just enough Coen brothers touches to make it recognizable as theirs…The key to its commerciality is in its sublimely decorative casting of George Clooney, the closest Hollywood has come to a replacement for Cary Grant, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, a smoldering beauty on the order of Ava Gardner…Clooney knocks this role out of the park. He simply has the most engaging screen personality of any contemporary star. He's as good-looking as a tax refund, but, more important, he has a casual ease before the camera that makes his performances seem effortless." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"It is a movie that goes down so easy, that bulldozes you so effectively, it’s easy to see why most — even those who consider themselves Coen skeptics — may be dissuaded from the niggling concern that the filmmakers’ attitudes are more than a bit reprehensible…while Clooney and Zeta-Jones sound like perfect casting, onscreen together they fail to spark in the way we expect. He seems to have let the Cary Grant comparisons go to his head, resulting in a lazy, shticky performance that’s far from his suave best. She simply isn’t around enough in order for her Marylin to fully engage Miles, or us." --Scott Foundas, LA Weekly

"Near the end of this smart, speedy romantic farce, the comic engine hits a wall and sputters. Until then, this Coen brothers film -- easily their silliest -- is fueled by a screwball fizz that keeps the laughs popping…In the Coen manner, the film brims with crafty character turns, including Billy Bob Thornton as a rich Texan and Geoffrey Rush as a ponytailed TV producer. But Clooney is definitely the man of these two hours. His portrait of a shark in love is a model of classy comic acting." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

''‘Intolerable Cruelty’ is as close as the Coens have come to conjuring the romantic disenchantment found in the movies of Billy Wilder…it's determined to keep Clooney's considerable comedic skills front and center. He's never been looser, sexier, or more antic…the last 20 minutes, which are more darkly comic than what preceded, nevertheless feel coerced into corniness. The Coens have trained us not to take Hollywood sentiment seriously, yet they insist on peddling it here anyway." --Wesley Morris, The Boston Globe

"… a delicious, consistently hilarious screwball farce that gives Clooney his best comedy role to date and should finally, forever, lift the Coens into the wide-release movie mainstream…This one works like a clock, off a very clever script, a solid supporting cast and a shrilly ingratiating performance by Zeta-Jones…And Clooney has simply never been better. He's totally commanding as a movie-star presence, his character is a scream and he's so adept at the self-deprecating, muggy comedy that he poses a very serious threat to Hugh Grant as contemporary Hollywood's greatest light comedian." --William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer