[box cover]

One Night at McCool's

News flash! Men think with their penises! If this is a revelation to you, then you might find the lackluster, silly One Night at McCool's an entertaining, insightful film experience. But for anyone who knows that sexy women can manipulate men, this film is short on originality and long on chatter. McCool's tells the story of Jewel Valentine (Liv Tyler), a breathtakingly beautiful woman who uses an erotic, passive-aggressive little-girl act to get what she wants from men. Randy (Matt Dillon) is the poor chump Jewel sets her sights on conquering, as she seduces him into changing his life to suit her needs. She starts by getting him to commit murder in the bar where he works, and then goes home with him to size up his possibilities as someone who can give her the high-end lifestyle she so desperately craves. Because Jewel is so beautiful — dressed in all manner of skintight sweaters, short skirts, and lingerie — Randy becomes a blithering idiot around her and is unable to say No when the promise of hot sex is the reward. But Randy is not the only man who has fallen for Jewel. Both Carl (Paul Reiser), Randy's married cousin and lawyer, and Detective Dehling (John Goodman), the cop investigating the murder at the bar, can barely contain their overwhelming lust for this temptress. Screwball comedies of this type work best when action tells the story, but Stan Seidel's script is so long on conversation that One Night at McCool's talks itself right out of being funny. Randy tells his story to a stranger at a bingo parlor (Michael Douglas), Carl tries to find solace in divulging his feelings of lust to his shrink (Reba McEntire — yes, the country singer), and Dehling confesses his sinful feelings to his priest. All this talk repeatedly brings the action to a complete standstill. And when director Harald Zwart does use the camera for action, it is for long slow-motion shots of Tyler vamping and cavorting in a dreamy Vaseline-lensed haze. Only near the end of the film do things start to move forward at a pace that fits the genre, but by then you don't care. Also hindering the film is Tyler, who just isn't up to the job. The part of Jewel calls for an actress who can play the innocent while showing an undercurrent of wily sophistication (think Nicole Kidman in Malice or Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction). Despite her grown-up beauty, Tyler still projects too much of a young girl's genuine sweetness in her speech and mannerisms, and she's just not believable as a cold-hearted bitch. The final nail in the coffin is the graphic gratuitous violence in McCool's, which feels out of place with the comic tone of the script. USA Home Entertainment's DVD offers the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras include a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film (which lets us experience first hand how boring it is on a movie set), music videos with a-ha and Joan Osborne, and seemingly endless deleted scenes. Also here are inane wardrobe/make-up tests for Tyler, a strange version of the cast's first read-through of the script, a location map, and storyboards. One gem — a very short piece entitled "How Did We Kill Paul Reiser." Keep-case.
—Kerry Fall

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