[i]Intolerable Cruelty[/i] is a battle-of-the-sexes romantic comedy, Coen brothers-style. George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones are smoothly matched as smarmy divorce lawyer and gold-digging California wife, respectively.Not usually known for collaborating, the Coens share producing (with Brian Grazer) and writing (Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone) credits on Intolerable Cruelty. The script is witty and light, to match Roger Deakins’ sunshiny cinematography and the sumptuous but thin lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-fatuous production design (Leslie McDonald).
There are enjoyable extended cameos from the likes of Geoffrey Rush and Billy Bob Thornton, and I got a kick out of Cedric the Entertainer’s “nail yo’ ass” private dick shtick at the start. Scarily memorable is the managing partner of Clooney’s law firm (Tom Aldredge), stuck on life support in the dungeon-like basement.A few scenes drag, notably Clooney’s less-than-convincing confession at a family law seminar. And you’d be hard-pressed to remember much of [i]Intolerable Cruelty[/i] the morning after you’ve seen it. Coen brothers’ purists will scoff at their prostituting themselves as writers-director for hire. For the rest of us, this is a bright and breezy comedy with a higher-than-average IQ for entries in this genre.