One Night at McCool’s (review)

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It’s a 1940s screwball noir updated for the 21st century… clumsily updated, that is. Ya got your femme fatale, your nice guy caught in her devious trap, the cop, the lawyer… all that’s missing is the quintessential turn- of- the- millennial comedy punching bag: the dog. Jewel (Liv Tyler: Armageddon) is obviously a conniving gold-digger from the moment she meets Randy (Matt Dillon: In and Out) — he doesn’t have a car but he does own his own house, so he “has potential” — and she immediately moves in and starts redecorating in full-blown bordello style. Randy is blinded to her cunning, at first, by her bodacious, barely clothed bod and her robust libido — as is every man here. The story starts one night at McCool’s, the bar where Randy works, and the sordid tale of sex, violence, and bad interior design unravels from three points of view: Randy’s, as he explains his plight to a hit man, Burmeister (Michael Douglas: Traffic); Randy’s scummy lawyer cousin, Carl (Paul Reiser), as he wails to a shrink about Jewel’s irresistibility; and cop Dehling (John Goodman: The Emperor’s New Groove), investigating the murder Jewel involves Randy in, who moans to his priest about the “god-given” desire for her that consumes him. She’s got them all wrapped around her finger, natch. McCool’s isn’t quite as relentlessly juvenile as the recent spate of sex comedies, but it’s hard not to get cheesed off by the fear-of-sex, fear-of-women theme operating here — Jewel “doesn’t sound worse than most of ’em,” Burmeister opines. The multi-viewpoint narration just underscores that age-old male terror: Not a man alive — not the godfearing type nor the slimeball nor the decent guy — is safe from the succubus that is woman. Ugh. “You’re not funny,” Carl’s wife tells him as he hits mercilessly on Jewel, “you’re just rude.” Amen, sister.

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