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May 3 - 10, 2001

[Movie Reviews]

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One Night at McCool's

With puppy-dog eyes, a near-continuous pout, and a soft, breathy voice that evokes an underage porn star, Liv Tyler's Jewel Valentine purrs variations of "You want me to be happy, don't you?" to the men in her life. Of course, these suckers - Randy (Matt Dillon), a slightly dense bartender; his cousin Carl (Paul Reiser), an egomaniacal lawyer; and Detective Dehling (John Goodman), a pious widower - find themselves going to lengths far greater than Jewel's skirts to make sure she is. She ensnares all three at the bar McCool's, on a night in which she pretends to be abused by her boyfriend (Andrew Silverstein a/k/a Andrew Dice Clay) and later kills him. Watching One Night at McCool's I felt a bit like Liv Tyler. Director Harald Zwart and screenwriter Stan Seidel have tried hard to please the audience. The cast is excellent and eclectic (the Dice Man notwithstanding); the film's framework, one story told from three different perspectives, is clever; and Johnny Cash leads the soundtrack. There are even a few inspired moments - as when Jewel, who obviously comes from a poor background, sprays Glade to set the mood for a romantic dinner. But most of the humor (a succession of jokes involving the Clapper; Reiser in bondage gear) is strained, reminding you of the difference between cool and McCool.

-- Mark Bazer

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