One Night at McCool's

One Night at McCool's

 

 

One Night at McCool's

2001. Directed by Harald Zwart.  

Zwart's first American film, One Night at McCool's is one of the rare, irreverent comedic gems to slip through the blockbuster embargo of the 21st century.  Using three cross cut narratives to hilarious results, One Night at McCool's was a critical and commercial bomb that has been mostly forgotten, despite it having occasional flashes of risque brilliance.  

Told from three different perspectives, One Night at McCool's chronicle's the story of Jewel, a blue collar femme fatale who manipulates a trio of unfortunate miscreants: A casually moral cop, a S & M loving narcissistic lawyer, and a lovable idiot bartender.  Each story presents similar events with hilariously different interpretations and culminates in one of the most playfully offensive finale's in recent memory.  

The cast has so much comedic talent that it's hard to pick a favorite.  Liv Tyler stars as Jewel, the eye of the storm.  She's supported by Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser, John Goodman, the great Richard Jenkins, Reba McEntire, Andrew Dice Clay, and a huge haired Michael Douglas.  Each character shines in Stan Seidel's posthumous Ameritrash Rashomon incarnation, drawn from various college bartender anecdotes.  The lion's share of the laughs come from each of the trio's retelling of the tale.  Goodman's is the best, presenting himself as a noble officer trying to save the innocent maiden, while Dillon delivers one of his best turns as the bumbling protagonist who fell for the wrong girl.  

Bruce Cannon's editing is a clinic on ADHD storytelling, bolstered by Karl Walter Lindenlaub's cinematography.  It's a dirty bar mat shot of blues and blacks off set by red whenever Tyler graces the screen.  Joy Zapata's hair styling must be mentioned if only for Douglas's ludicrous doo, while Ellen Mirojnick's screwball costumes come together to deliver one of the most gut busting shoot outs in comedic history.  

One of the best parts of One Night at McCool's is the set design.  Larry Dias creates a singular world that all of the characters inhabit, despite the vastly different experiences they each remember.  The house at the center of mayhem is the one constant in the ever shifting interpretation of reality and it's a key player in the antics,aiding the viewer in deciphering the truth of the ordeal.  

Available now on a woefully sub par DVD, One Night at McCool's is a film that has two misses for every hit.  In the end, it can't quite seal the deal on it's outstanding premise, devolving into a maniacal free fire where nothing is sacred and everything is up for grabs.   One Night at McCool's is pure comedic bliss and a cult film that deserves another chance, if only for insanity of the climax...and Douglas's hair.  

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