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IN SHORT: One big, bubbly, sloppy wet kiss at the feet of Liv Tyler, Love Goddess by the pond scum who worship her, desire her and/or desperately wish they had never crossed her path. Wacky doesn't begin to come close to categorizing this off the wall comedy. [Rated R for violence, sexuality and language. 92 minutes]
A Night At McCool's is funny and stereotypically sexy and generically bloody and loony and unbelievable in a way that only those of us sitting in the protective environment of an air conditioned movie theater, could possibly believe. The fact of the matter is that we can tell you every joke in the entire movie in detail, and you'll still be laughing when they hit the screen.
We never spill, but we have no qualms about being very suggestive. That's totally in keeping with the spirit of McCool's . . .
A lot of things can happen on a dark, misty night outside of a rundown bar somewhere in St. Louis, Missouri. A drunk lawyer could see his cousin-who-isn't-a-blood-relative sort of rescue a damsel in distress from the oversized thug of a boyfriend who is beating on her in the front seat of his gold Firebird. Well, maybe not the distress or the beating part but there definitely was a gold Firebird and a lot of yelling and she was definitely dressed in a red velvet micro-mini with a push-up bra pushing up an incredibly attractive pair of biological stand-ins that didn't need much pushing up 'cuz, well, they were stand-ins. That's the magic of Hollywood. That damned lucky . . .
The night Jewel (Liv Tyler) walked into McCool's, doves did not fly and cherubs did not drop rose petals in her path but don't tell that to Carl (Paul Reiser), the plastered lawyer who's in competition with a guy named Greg for the one partnership available at the Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Hough. Say it out loud, carefully. Yeah, we spilled a joke. So does the teevee commercial (and you know what? Even seeing it coming doesn't stop the guffaws. And there are plenty of them).
To Randy (Matt Dillon), the bartender at McCool's and the lucky son of Carl's wife's uncle's brother, Jewel was the ride of his life in every sense of the word. Randy has everything Jewel wants. A house -- a real fix-'er-upper in every sense of the word -- that she can make into the dream residence just like the pictures she's cut out of design magazines and carries in a little notebook. True, she was just supposed to keep Randy busy while her boyfriend Utah (Andrew Silverstein) ripped off everything worth having but, just like the condition of the house, there wasn't anything worth having. Which doesn't explain why Randy shot the man dead in McCool's a couple of hours later.
He didn't, but try telling that to police Detective Charlie Dehling (John Goodman). To him, Jewel is the living embodiment of his deceased wife Theresa. She appears to him as a living icon, bathed in the Light of Holy Purity whose Rapturous Visage fills his world with Goodness and Love and all that good stuff. A perfect potential mate who fills him with feelings that, when he confesses them to Father Jimmy (Richard Jenkins), well, that would be telling . . .
Three men in trouble. One went to his priest. One spills all to a shrink (Reba McEntire). One plays Bingo with a guy in a 1970s vintage Quiana shirt (Michael Douglas) who can make all problems disappear for a mere $10,000 cash payment.
And Utah has a twin brother (also Silverstein) who is very upset about the death in the family. Imagine Andrew Dice Clay with a gun (which is exactly who Silverstein is) and enjoy the fireworks.
The actors, male and female, all see exactly what they want to see. It's a Universe that is created from generic commercial elements. The men see their Perfect Woman, and are blind to (or twist the actions of) every other person in the vicinity. The Woman sees her potential Perfect World. One Night At McCool's delivers sex and violence in such broad strokes that you may as well be watching a live action Mad Magazine, without the asides to the audience, from the days when it parodied films to perfection.
The movie commercial promises, and delivers, sex and violence. Director Harald Zwart throws every visual cliché ever seen in television commercials (his background) at you: the waving hair, the soapy suds on breasts and thighs, the water hose drenching and dripping off body parts, the skirts riding up and diaphanous dresses barely covering... uh... gimme a sec... gotta catch my breath... ok... all that's missing is Donovan singing "Wear Your Love Like Heaven".
I'm dating myself, but that should just get everybody else who hit forty into a theater. One Night At McCool's is lowbrow, but not gross-out, humor and it's very funny. Also submitted for your viewing enjoyment are some hot pix of Ms. Tyler, all of which accompany her sit down with Paul Fischer for Cranky Critic® StarTalk.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to One Night At McCool's, he would have paid . . .
One Night At McCool's is one of those rare comedies where we could tell you every joke before you see the film, and you'd still be rolling in the aisle.
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