One Night at McCool's (R)
Michael Douglas' production company Furthur Films trots out debut director Harald Zwart with a predictable dark comedy centered around three men's recollections of disasterous events caused by their meeting the same woman at a bar called McCool's.
Liv Tyler plays Jewel, a materialist sex bunny with a penchant for theft and manipulating men. If it weren't for the film's canny casting choices of Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman, the movie's already lacking entertainment value would be less than zero. There's just enough senseless death, lacking morals and bad hairdos to condemn this movie as one Tarrantino knock-off too many.
Randy (Matt Dillon,) a messy bachelor bartender, Carl (Paul Reiser), a kinky, rich, married lawyer, and detective Dehling (John Goodman), a pious cop, are men with very little common sense to go with their hyper libidos. We know this because each one falls hopelessly in love with Jewel in the face of very bad signals she gives off like an out-of-control stoplight.
Randy meets Jewel when she escapes from the clutches of an evil dude in a brown Camero outside of McCool's bar just as Randy is closing up to go home. Little does Randy know that Jewel was already putting the moves on his distant cousin, Carl, inside the bar. Randy comes to Jewel's rescue to have her invite herself over to his ill-furnished house for some wild sex before her partner-in-crime, Utah (the dude in the brown Camaro), joins in to rob Randy of all he's worth.
The second act picks up after Jewel shoots Utah as he waits for Randy to empty the safe. Detective Dehling isn't so much interested in solving the case as he is in displacing Jewel from Randy's house where she now lives.
While Jewel goes about setting up her little dream cottage in Randy's house with items she provokes him to steal, another corpse appears at Jewel's unsteady hand. Randy begins to seek revenge against Jewel just as Carl and detective Dehling converge on Jewel for her affection.
The movie is dedicated to its screenwriter Stan Seidel, a television writer (Fox Network's True Colors and ABC's Where I Live) who passed away at age 48. One Night at McCool's is the first of Seidel's three screenplays to be produced.
Although the movie carries a comic foundation in Seidel's hometown of St. Louis, Mo., there isn't enough of a synergy between the three main male characters for their troubles with the female object of their desire to reveal much about them as characters, much less people an audience would care about. Randy carries the narrative weight as the story's protagonist, but never goes beyond the luckless bartender that we meet at the beginning of the movie.
Michael Douglas does an enjoyable comic turn as a bingo-playing hitman with an Elvis coiffure that shouts "wig" so loud his low-rent character seems to duck beneath the roar. Paul Reiser shamelessly takes the brunt of the film's humor as he prances around for the last part of the movie dressed in leather-and-chains S&M gear. There's no question that Liv Tyler is attractive and churlish enough to drive McCool's bored male characters to the ends of sanity; it's more a matter of how many more half-baked Pulp Fictions will be pawned off at the box office.