Intolerable Cruelty is a 2003 romantic black comedy film about divorce and lawyers, set in Los Angeles. The film was co-written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Geoffrey Rush, Billy Bob Thornton, Cedric the Entertainer and Paul Adelstein. The film was released by Universal Pictures.
- Directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Produced by: Brian Grazer, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Written by: Robert Ramsay, Matthew Stone, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
- Story by: Robert Ramsay, Matthew Stone, John Romano
- Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Edward Herrmann, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Adelstein, Billy Bob Thornton
- Music by: Carter Burwell
- Cinematography: Roger Deakins
- Edited by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
- Country: U.S.A.
- Language: English
- Running time: 100 minutes
- Budget: $60 million
- Box Office: $120 million
- Release date: October 10, 2003
- Distributed by: Universal Studios
Donovan Donaly (Geoffrey Rush) is a TV soap opera producer. One day he comes home early and finds his wife Bonnie (Stacey Travis) with her lover, Ollie (Jack Kyle). After being discovered, Bonnie runs away
with her lover but Donovan documents well the infidelity before.
So Bonnie hires Miles Massey (George Clooney), a top divorce attorney and the inventor of the "Massey pre-nup", a completely foolproof prenuptial agreement. Bonnie wins the divorce case thanks to Miles, and they leave Donovan with nothing.
Meanwhile, private investigator Gus Petch (Cedric The Entertainer) is tailing the wealthy and married Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann) on a drunken night out with a blonde. When they stop at a motel, Gus bursts in and tapes them with a video camera.
He takes the evidence of infidelity to Rex's wife, Marylin Rexroth (Catherine Zeta-Jones), whose primary motivation is obtaining wealth and independence via divorce. So Rex hires Miles Masey for the divorce case. And Marylin's friend, a serial divorcée named Sarah Sorkin (Julia Duffy), warns Marilyn that Miles will be a dangerous opponent.
At first Rex and Marylin try to negociate an agreements with their respective lawyers, but they fail to reach an agreement at the meeting.
One night, Miles invites Marilyn for dinner, and he takes advantage she's not at her house and hires Gus Petch to brew at Marilyn home that night and photograph Marilyn agenda for him. Miles suspects Marilyn was only married to Rex for the interest and to gain a good fortune in the divorce.
In court, Miles gets the Baron Krauss von Espy (Jonathan Hadary) to testify that Marylin had asked him to point out a man she could marry who was very rich, easily manipulated, and likely to be unfaithful. Marylin winds up with nothing after the trial, and Miles's aged boss, Herb Myerson (Tom Aldredge), congratulates him.
Marylin wants revenge, so she plans to nail Miles and to get all his fortune. For the plan she searchs for the broke soap-producer Donovan Donaly (who's living on the street and is still clutching his Emmy statuette) that is also looking for revenge from Miles.
Soon after, Marylin shows up at Miles's office with a person she says is her new fiancé, supposedly an oil millionaire named Howard D. Doyle (Billy Bob Thornton). Marylin insists on the Massey prenup saying she is in love and doesn't want Howard's fortune, But at the wedding, Miles sees Howard destroy the pre-nup during the wedding, in a demonstration of love to Marilyn.
Six months later, while visiting Las Vegas to give the keynote address at a convention for divorce attorneys, Miles bumps into Marylin. The rumor is she's now divorced and with the huge fortune of Howard D. Doyle. She's now richer than Miles.
Marilyn is now disenchanted with her wealthy but lonely life, having divorced Howard and received the vast Doyle Oil fortune. But Miles is thrilled with her. they marry on the spur of the moment. He signs the Massey prenup, but she tears it up in a demonstration of love.
While Miles ran into Marilyn in Las Vegas he finally asks her out for a dinner. During the dinner they both share their feelings with each other especially Marilyn confessing that she is living an unhappy life and does not know what to do. At the end they were both weren't hungry and both of them thought about each other while on the elevator.
During the next few hours Miles receives a call from Marilyn and she tells him that one of her friends has died and wishes to be with someone for the rest her life. Having feeling sorry for Marilyn, Miles decides they will get married immediately and it was the first time that Marilyn is in love. The two share a kiss and Miles romantically carried Marilyn all the way to the romantic suit where they both make out.
The next morning a disheveled Miles announces at the convention that love is the most important thing, and that he is abandoning divorce suits in favor of pro-bono work. Marilyn confesses to Miles that he will always be his favourite husband.
Then Miles discovers that "Howard D. Doyle" was just an actor from one of Donaly's soap operas. Marylin has tricked him, and now Miles' wealth is at risk.
Miles' boss demands that something be done to save the firm's reputation, and suggests the hitman "Wheezy Joe" (Irwin Keyes), who Miles hires to kill Marilyn.
Miles then learns that Marylin's ex-husband Rex has died without changing his will, leaving her millions. Miles rushes to save his wife from the hitman, but Marilyn has already agreed to pay him double to kill Miles instead. There is a struggle and in the confusion Wheezy Joe mistakes his gun for his asthma inhaler, and kills himself.
Later, Miles, Marylin and their lawyers meet to negotiate a divorce. Miles pleads for a second chance and retroactively signs a Massey prenup. She tears it up, and they kiss.
Marylin tells Miles that she has suggested an idea to Donaly for a TV show: Gus Petch becomes the host of a big hit, America's Funniest Divorce Videos
- George Clooney - Miles Massey
- Catherine Zeta-Jones - Marilyn Hamilton Rexroth Doyle Massey (Miles Massey's love interest and permanent wife)
- Edward Herrmann - Rex Rexroth
- Paul Adelstein - Wrigley
- Cedic the Entertainer - Gus Petch
- Geoffrey Rush - Donovan Donaly
- Richard Jenkins - Freddy Bender
- Billy Bob Thornton - Howard D. Doyle
- Julia Duffy - Sarah Batista O'Flanagan Sorkin
- Jonathan Hadary - Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy
Intolerable Cruelty is scored by Carter Burwell, in his tenth collaboration with the Coen Brothers. =The soundtrack album features a variety pop songs and cues from Burwell's score. "The Boxer", first by Simon and Garfunkel and then as covered by Colin Linden, opens and closes the album. A Canadian blues musician, Linden had previously participated in Down from the Mountain, a live performance of music from the Coens' O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and he performs several Simon and Garfunkel songs in the film, including a snippet of Punky's Dilemma ("I wish I was a Kellogg's Corn Flake"), not included on the soundtrack release. Other songs include "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley, "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" by Edith Piaf and "Glory of Love" by Big Bill Broonzy.
- The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel – 5:09
- Intolerable Mambo – Carter Burwell - 1:41
- Suspicious Minds - Elvis Presley – 4:33
- Hanky Panky Choo Choo – Carter Burwell - 2:07
- Don't Cry Out Loud - Melissa Manchester – 3:48
- Feels So Good - Chuck Mangione – 9:42
- You Fascinate Me - Carter Burwell – 1:40
- April Come She Will - Colin Linden – 0:59
- Heather 2 Honeymoon - Carter Burwell – 1:39
- If I Only Knew - Tom Jones – 4:18
- Love Is Good - Carter Burwell – 3:26
- Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien - Edith Piaf – 2:21
- No More Working - Carter Burwell – 3:01
- Fully Exposed - Carter Burwell – 1:46
- Glory of Love - Big Bill Broonzy – 2:20
- The Boxer - Colin Linden – 2:20
The film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" score of 75% based on reviews from 180 critics. Metacritic gives a weighted average score of 71% based on reviews from 40 critics.
Intolerable Cruelty grossed a total worldwide box office of $120,217,409.