One Night at McCool's
Screenplay : Stan Seidel
MPAA Rating : R
Year of Release : 2001
Stars : Liv Tyler (Jewel Valentine), Matt Dillon (Randy), John Goodman (Detective Dehling), Paul Reiser (Carl), Michael Douglas (Mr. Burmeister), Andrew Dice Clay (Utah / Mormon Brother)
In One Night at McCool's, Liv Tyler plays Jewel, a curvaceous bombshell scam artist who wraps a trio of idiotic men around her finger, proving what seems to be the movie's only point: Men think with the wrong head. Despite being at various stations in life, none of the men here are strong enough to resist Jewel's wiles, even when it becomes plainly obvious that she is bad news in every way (she's not only a criminal scam artist, but she's a hopelessly materialistic would-be homemaker).
The three men who get mired in Jewel's sexual trappings are Randy (Matt Dillon), the dim-witted bartender with a fetish for snow globes given to him by his mother; Carl (Paul Reiser), Randy's married lawyer cousin who is utterly obsessed with anything sexual; and Detective Dehling (John Goodman), the portly police office who investigates when Randy and Jewel kill her criminal boyfriend (Andrew Dice Clay, in one of two roles) while he is robbing Randy at McCool's, the bar in which he works. The movie opens with these three men telling their version of what happened, each to a different person, which leads to lame, yawn-inducing jokes about psychoanalysts and repressed Catholic priests.
Randy tells his story to a man named Mr. Burmeister (Michael Douglas, who also coproduced), a bingo-playing relic of the '70s lounge-lizard days with an enormous pompadour and glistening white teeth who also happens to be a hired killer. Burmesiter is about as obsessed with sex as Carl is, only he's a little less desperate about his interest. Actually, the whole movie is obsessed with sex (and is desperate in showing it), but not in a good way. Rather, the whole movie is like the deranged fantasy of couple of pre-teens who have seen too many crime movies and Playboy videos and somehow gotten the two conflated in their heads.
Director Harald Zwart, working from a script by the late Stan Seidel, attempts to pump up the volume throughout the movie, putting his experience in music videos and commercials to full use in a series of overwrought comedy segments that mostly flounder and fail. Zwart throws his camera directly in the actor's faces at strange angles, making them grotesque and out-of-proportion. He slams home every scene with a worn-out rock song (at one point using the Village People's "YMCA" during a shootout). And, just in case we haven't caught on that Jewel is supposed to be irresistible, he films her with golden halos shining out from her entire body (or he puts her in a tight dress and films her in slow motion hosing down a car in what looks like a bad soft-core porn video).
One Night at McCool's has energy, but as a farce it falls flat because it has no tone and no center. Zwart is literally all over the place in his direction, as if he were trying on styles only to discard them a few minutes later because they didn't suit his needs. Thus, we get stale sex jokes about bondage, hyper-fast montage editing, goofy physical humor, some kind of attempt at Rashomon-style multiple perspectives, and a concluding gun battle that turns into a bloodbath out of a Peckinpah film. The movie might have gained an ounce of redemption from its shock-hilarious final scene, but the marketers removed that chance by including it in the trailer. For those who haven't seen the trailer, it still won't be enough to make this Night worth your while.
©2001 James Kendrick