One Night at Mccool's

on April 27, 2001 by Tim Cogshell
   "One Night at McCool's" is a noirish dark comedy of the sort constructed entirely to get the audience to a big pay-off--though said pay-offs usually aren't as interesting as the process of getting there. Not true in this case: "McCool's" is evenly paced and ends with a bang.

   The film features all of the requisite elements of noir. There's the guy (three guys actually), the dangerously beautiful girl, and the hit-man. On the titular night at McCool's bar, Randy (Matt Dillon), a nice guy and workaday bartender, comes to the rescue of the sort of woman who's often referred to in these films as "a tall drink of water." Classic femme fatale Jewel (Liv Tyler) is so devastatingly beautiful that whenever a man first sees her, time contracts, the lighting keys-up and a surreal fog over takes the scene. In short order, Randy finds himself living with Jewel, who has an obsessive desire for a house of her own and decides to take his. She also wants all the contemporary accoutrements--particularly major electronics--and intends to get them. Dazed by all the hot unsolicited sex, Randy doesn't require much prodding into a life of petty crime to get Jewel what she wants. She goes on dates with rich dweebs (who usually try to rape her) while Randy cleans out their houses. Meanwhile, Randy's cousin, a successful but sexually masochistic lawyer played wickedly by Paul Reiser, finds himself smitten by Jewel as well. Toss in the detective investigating the crime spree who's also stung by the leggy beauty, and the formula is nearly complete. All you need is the hit-man--who's played by the film's producer, Michael Douglas, with a creepy flair usually reserved for Dennis Hopper.

   "One Night at McCool's" is a humorously spun noir comedy that incrementally works its way right over the top. It has all has all the quirks of a Coen Brothers film with a slightly darker sense of humor. Starring Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, John Goodman, Paul Reiser and Michael Douglas. Directed by Harald Zwart. Written by Stan Seidel. Produced by Michael Douglas and Allison Lyon Segan. A USA release. Black comedy. Rated R for violence and sexual situations. Running time 100 min

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