Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Rossiter Drake*
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Cedric the Entertainer. Rated: PG-13.
Feature Presentation: Having pieced together an impressive string of wildly original art-house gems (The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou, The Man Who Wasn’t There) in the wake of their definitive work, 1996’s superlative Fargo, it was perhaps inevitable that directors Joel and Ethan Coen would stumble — and stumble they do with Intolerable Cruelty, a mildly diverting homage to the screwball romantic comedies of the ’30s that seems to be running on fumes from the start. All the elements for another Coen classic are there: strong leads, a fine supporting cast highlighted by Billy Bob Thornton’s turn as a buffoonish Texas tycoon, a stable of gleefully malicious characters and an engaging love story rife with subversive twists. But Cruelty, the directing duo’s most conventional and commercial product to date, lacks the creative juices of a Lebowski, and beyond Clooney and Zeta-Jones’ emotionally impaired schemers, the characters, like the story, seem underdeveloped. There are lots of intriguing pieces to this puzzle, but the final product feels slapped together and incomplete.
Bonus Materials: If Intolerable Cruelty doesn’t feel quite like a typical Coen concoction, theres a reason — it was written nearly a decade ago for another director before bouncing around Hollywood and landing back in the laps of the reluctant brothers, who initially deemed the project too commercial for their tastes. That’s the most telling detail to emerge from an otherwise standard making-of featurette. Elsewhere, the roster of deleted scenes is disappointing at best — these outtakes deserved to stay out.