This Coen Brothers’ screwball CIA comedy hits all the right notes to light up a somewhat bleak fall season with laughs aplenty from an all-star cast. This comedy, starring George Clooney, John Malkovich, and Frances McDormand, makes fun of mannerisms and high society with mistakes and misnomers that’ll tickle your funny bone ‘till the cows come home. J.K. Simmons’ short but heavy appearance in the film not only adds a great touch but helps bring the story back to reality.
After No Country for Old Men, the next film for the Best Directing Oscar-winning Coen Brothers is more irreverent and much tighter than their past black comedies Fargo and The Big Lebowski, but it does not have the epic cult feel the other two had, but instead replaces that feeling with safe mainstream smugness. Which is not to say Burn After Reading was a bad movie… far from it. But it could have been more down-to-earth. However, the same smugness that is noted in the film is also being made fun throughout. It’s like an updated version of The Importance of Being Earnest! But with a CD rather than a last name.
In my opinion, the one actor that really stole the show, as usual, was the immensely talented and wonderfully entertaining John Malkovich. All in all, he was pretty much the one “straight man” in the whole film (i.e. high on drama, low on jokes) but I feel that without his part the comedy would not have flowed as well, because it needed that balance, as this is definitely a thinking man’s comedy, presented through dialogue and facial expressions.
Another character that I actually really liked was Chad Feldheimer, played by Brad Pitt. It was the first time in awhile that I’ve seen Mr. Pitt play someone other than, well, himself. The same could be said of Clooney and his character, but I did not like his character quite as much. Anyway, Chad brings life and joy to an otherwise bad situation. It’s his “can-do attitude” that brings this movie to its climax. (one of many, I might add).
The overall atmosphere of the movie seemed, on one hand, to play it straight, as if it really was a thriller (like 88 Minutes) with overly-dramatic music, tense situations and people walking around like they are ready to win. But on the other hand, we had characters like Pitt’s Chad and Simmons’ CIA Superior to remind us that it’s just a movie and a funny one at that. Call it the Confused Country for Dumb Men.
4 / 5 stars
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