Jewel is a Rough Diamond
"One Night at McCool's" feels like something out of the Tarantino play book with it's tale of one woman who enters the life of 3 men and we watch as each of them tell their interweaving stories of their relationship with this one woman offering up alternate versions before it all ends up coming together in a big finale, a shoot out which again feels like it's been inspired by Tarantino. But "One Night at McCool's" isn't a Tarantino movie, it's directed by Harald Zwart and this isn't a taut, bloody tale of violence but a comedy and a surreal one at that.
It all started one night at McCools when barman Randy (Matt Dillon - Wild Things) helps in distress Jewel (Liv Tyler - Stealing Beauty) and ends up taking her back to his. He cant believe his luck as Jewel is seriously hot, that is until she tells him it was all a set-up and a ruse to rob him of all his valuables. Cue her partner who shows up with a gun in hand, except Jewel has a change of heart and ends up shooting her partner telling Randy she wants to move in with him. Enter Detective Dehling (John Goodman - King Ralph) who is a little suspicious of the couples story behind the shooting and on seeing Jewel falls head over heels in love with her. And then there is Carl (Paul Reiser), Randys cousin, who also on spotting Jewel falls for her sexy charms and although married can't wait for his change to pounce.
One of the strangest things is that for ages it seems that "One Night at McCool's" isn't really going anywhere. Yes we get this set up of the 3 men all telling how the sexy Jewel came into their lives and how her presence caused them to act uncharacteristically with Randy robbing houses, Carl fanaticizing about her and Detective Dehling becoming infatuated by her but it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. But it does and as you would expect these 3 men and their alternate stories which intertwine finally arrive at the same place to deliver a big climax, a very stylish shoot out full of action and comedy. How it gets to that point is hugely contrived and often surreal but amusingly so, so amusing that it doesn't really matter that much of what happens is plainly daft.
But what makes all this work is that it is purely comical, the initial lustful meeting between Randy and Jewel ends up in a sexual romp where the banging of the headboard causes the light to snap on snap off. And this sense of strangely amusing and surreal flows through every scene be it Dehling fanaticising as Jewel washes a car in a very in your face male fantasy way, or Carl's kinky fetish for chains and leather which in the final climax is just hysterical. But it's also the characters which are surreally funny most significantly Michael Douglas as a the bingo going hit man Mr. Burmeister, weird beyond belief but highly funny thanks to Douglas's wonderful sense for being funny. Nothing at all in the movie is played seriously, yet the comedy isn't just thrown in haphazardly its part of the story, the comically amusing deaths and so on.
And it is also seriously stylish, "One Night at McCool's" has a touch of film noir about it in places and Zwart ramps this up with the way the three men tell their stories almost in a narration as they tell someone else about this woman and what she is doing to them. But it also has that vibrant modern side with powerful scenes which merge slow motion with action, most significantly the terrific ending which reminded me of "True Romance". It makes it a movie which you watch for what it delivers visually rather than overly concerning yourself with the story which although good has its flaws.
And then there is the acting and as already mentioned Michael Douglas almost steals the show as Mr. Burmeister but the real stars are Matt Dillon and Liv Tyler both playing to their strengths. So what you get is Dillon playing the handsome young Randy, easily going, easily lead and often a little stupid about things whilst Tyler oozes sexuality as Jewel and manipulative with it so you always know that there is an ulterior motive to what ever she does. It's a good pairing, both easy on the eye but also very good at delivering the comedy which their roles demand. Plus of course their is Paul Reiser as Randy's cousin Carl and John Goodman as Detective Dehling both delivering solidly comical performances as the other shall we say patsies.
The trouble is that whilst all of this works, the comedy, the action, the intertwining stories which for the most keep you interested and entertained it's not hugely memorable. Yes Douglas as a strange hit man and Liv Tyler as the sexy Jewel stick in your mind but little else does, even the stylish big climax with it's joke about the village people which is one of the funniest moments in the movie fails to stick with you that long after the movie has ended.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "One Night at McCool's" will amuse and entertain with it's often surreal comedy as well as it's Tarantino-esque story and styling it won't leave a long lasting impression on you. But it's worth a watch just to watch Liv Tyler vamp it up and Michael Douglas giving us quirky comedy as a hit man.