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"One Night at McCool's"

Directed by Harald Zwart.
Written by Stan Seidel. 
Starring Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and Michael Douglas.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  5/2/01 


What up?  Long time, no see; although I thought about catching a couple of flicks over the weekend, the weather was just too perfect--75 degrees, not a cloud in the sky--to be caught hanging out in a movie theater.

I actually had the chance to see "One Night at McCool's" for free last Thursday night--courtesy, once again, of Tricia "Hot" Ocampo--but my roommate Chuck and I got to see a test screening of "The Musketeer" (also referred to as "D'Artagnan") last week, an action-adventure that is not finished yet but due out later this summer.  I won't review this film until it is released, since what I saw was a rough cut...but, the folks who did the stunts for "The Matrix" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" did the stunts for "The Musketeer", so I am intrigued to see what the final cut of the film will look like.

So anyway, I rolled over to the multiplex after work tonight to see if Liv Tyler and Matt Dillon and Michael Douglas and Paul Reiser made for anything worthwhile.  This black comedy concerns a hot Susie Homemaker-type named Jewel (Tyler) that messes up the lives of three different men:  a bartender (Dillon), a lawyer (Reiser) that wouldn't mind cheating on his wife, and a religious detective (John Goodman).  In her quest to find a man that can provide her with a good homelife, she manipulates everyone she comes in contact with by putting on the charm...and filling a few bodybags for good measure.  The bartender--Jewel's first victim when the movie opens--hires a bingo-playing 50-something hitman (Douglas) to take her out for good.

Although it is pretty dark at times, "One Night at McCool's" worked as a comedy for me, and most of the laughs came from the movie's profanity-laced script and its numerous slow-motion sequences of the principal stars.  Tyler is pretty hot...but, she has always seemed just a little weird to me.  She has one of the clumsiest smiles in the history of movies, but the filmmakers make up for this by showing her Brockovich-like cleavage non-stop.  And to their credit, it is usually played for laughs, like in the movie's funniest sequence, when the cop comes out of the bartender's beat-up house to see Jewel raunchily washing a Honda Civic; she gives the cop a bunch of these overly-toothy grins that had my audience (of, ahem, eight people) laughing out loud.

I always love movies that know exactly what they are, and "One Night at McCool's" is great at playing itself up for laughs.  There are no illusions of grandeur with the been-there-done-that script, and if you are going to buy that Douglas is really a hitman, you have to be able to stretch your imagination *just* a little bit.  His greased coif is so movie-perfect that Douglas must have laughed himself silly while in the makeup trailer each morning.  Reiser--who I despised as he made paycheck after paycheck for the awful sitcom "Mad About You"--is great is his role as a dirty scoundrel here, mostly because he is playing so against type; his bondage scenes late in the movie really make for a conversation piece.  And, pairing his sex scenes in "One Night at McCool's" and the dirty thriller "Wild Things", Matt Dillon has my vote for The Man's Man sometimes seems that no one in film is having more fun than Dillon, who plays some version of himself almost every time out, and he is great again here in his current work.  Plus, his hilarious cameo work in "There's Something About Mary" guarantee his place in movie history.

Besides its bloody finale--a shootout set to the Village People's "YMCA"--this is a fun and funny flick.  Great cameos by "I thought he was dead!" Andrew Dice Clay and Reba McIntyre provide the film with great support, and the film is never boring because it changes perspectives from one guy to the next every few minutes.  A surprise film...but, if you don't see it by this weekend, it will be out of theaters, since it placed 12th in its first weekend of release, and with "The Mummy Returns" kicking off the summer season this weekend, "One Night at McCool's" doesn't stand much of a chance.

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09