One Night At McCool's Movie Review
There is a gold mine of comedy to be found in the impetuous and foolhardy things men will do when dumbstruck by a beautiful girl. I should know -- I cringe to think how funny I've may have been over the years.
Potentially even funnier are the kinds of things men will do when the beautiful girl is a femme fatale who has no qualms about taking advantage of the fact that her mere presence makes guys brains shut down.
In "One Night at McCool's" the femme fatale is played by Liv Tyler (now that's what I call great casting!), and she has Matt Dillon, John Goodman and Paul Reiser wrapped around her little finger.
Dillon is a bar tender whom she sets up to rescue her from an "abusive boyfriend." It isn't long before she's moved in, redecorated his ramshackle house and made him an unwitting accessory to the boyfriend's murder. Reiser is Dillon's cousin, an exceedingly vain lawyer suffering from suburban family man ennui. He meets Tyler and turns into a lech (Reiser plays a darn good chauvinist pig). Pretty soon she's got him right where she wants him, too -- handcuffed, bound in leather and begging for mercy.
Goodman is the cop investigating the boyfriend's murder, but once he gets a gander at Tyler -- with her come-hither pout, sex-tossed hair and WonderBra wardrobe -- he's never able to think straight again.
The story of how easily these three dopes are manipulated when all the blood has rushed from their brains is told from three different perspectives, as each of them seeks counsel when their lives are turned upside down by this girl.
Reiser steps off his high horse to go see a shrink (played by Reba McEntire), although he's pretty paranoid about being in therapy. "I've got this thing going on with this woman," he begins, then adding adamantly, "Not my mom!"
Goodman seeks the advice of a priest, confessing he's destroyed evidence to protect this "angel" from Dillon (who in his version of events is an abusive drunk) and going into embarrassingly graphic detail about the daydreams that have been running through his mind.
Curiously, Dillon hunts down an aging bingo hall stud he doesn't even know and just spills his guts about how this girl has lost him his job, taken his house and ruined his life. Why he comes to this slimeball -- played with crude, reptilian aplomb by Michael Douglas in a powder blue polyester paisley shirt and a really bad toupee -- only becomes clear with the ominous exchange of $10,000 for criminal services to be rendered.
But while "McCool's" is as ripe as can be for wicked laughs, first-time director Harald Zwart seems a little too green to fully harvest the humor. The movie is certainly amusing, but it's uneven. As I look back on my notes, I wrote more about Zwart visual trickery (the guys all see Tyler in a artificially colorized, soft-focus haze) than I did about the movie's many zany episodes.
I made note of the sexy, sudsy car wash scene (a properly jaw-dropping bit borrowed from "Cool Hand Luke"). I wrote down that Andrew Silverstein (that's Andrew Dice Clay to you and me) is funny as Tyler's dead biker boyfriend and his nerdy, shot-gun toting twin brother. I got a kick out of the shoot-out set to the tune of the Village People's "YMCA." But through most of the movie I was thinking about what a comedy king like Woody Allen could have done with the same script -- or going in another direction entirely, what the sick and twisted Farrelly Brothers might have made of it.
There are ample laughs in "McCool's" just the way it is -- I'd still call it a good bargain matinee. But it's a movie that doesn't live up to its potential, and one that annoys a little with its non-ending that leaves most of the characters dangling.