Who’s In It: George Clooney, France McDormand, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton
The Basics: CIA guy John Malkovich, demoted in rank, quits and decides to take revenge by writing a tell-all memoir. His disc-stored file winds up in the hands of knuckleheaded gym employees Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, who believe the information to be government intelligence and decide to blackmail Malkovich. Meanwhile, Federal Marshall George Clooney is having simultaneous affairs with McDormand and Malkovich’s wife, the stern pediatrician Tilda Swinton. So yeah, everyone’s involved and the circles close in smaller and smaller until people get hurt, including the audience.
What’s The Deal? First, you have to take the Coen brothers’ No Country For Old Men out of the equation. Maybe Miller’s Crossing too. Then what you have is a career in filmmaking devoted to the excavation of stupidity. In their world every single person alive is an idiot and existence is one absurd car crash after another. Governmental stupidity is this chapter’s specific target, delivered scattershot, making it a really timely election year comedy. Adding to the corrosive reality? It’s totally not funny.
Who Makes It Bearable: Brad Pitt seems to love not having to carry a movie. He stays loose and goofy throughout, all the way down to his near-Johnny Suede haircut. Tilda Swinton’s here too, which means when she’s on camera it suddenly becomes a cooler movie all around, especially the part where she’s impatient and mean to one of her kid patients.
Coen Brothers Movies To Watch Instead: Raising Arizona, Fargo, Blood Simple
Things I Thought About When The Movie Wasn’t Doing It For Me. That Means For Most of The Running Time, By The Way: What prop people built sexed-up Clooney’s character’s kinky basement apparatus, a combination rowing machine/surrogate-penetration-device he shows off to the delight of McDormand? And what did that prop master(s) tell their friends and family about what they did at work all day? And did someone keep it after the movie wrapped? And when are they selling it eBay?