In Derp Blog Into Darkness, I take a plunge into the deep with movies I’ve never seen or (in some cases) never even heard of, with the only common thread throughout being that they were purchased by my partner in the years after the break with her religious upbringing. This gives me a range from mainstream comfort food to more daring, “rebellious” stuff.
There aren’t many movies in Ella’s collection that, over the course of this experiment, I had to watch by myself because of her unwillingness to subject herself again to an unfortunate blind-buy. IGOR was one, BROKEN FLOWERS was one, and now, ONE NIGHT AT MCCOOL’S. When asked why, she said she couldn’t actually remember anything about the movie besides blind buying it, subsequently having it be something “completely other than what I expected”, and hating it.
My recollection of this movie’s existence was limited to Liv Tyler seducing a bunch of guys while washing a car, so I was going in pretty blind. The movie is told from the perspective of barkeep Randy (Matt Dillon), lawyer Paul Reiser and detective John Goodman. Equally credited (and producing) Michael Douglas is actually not one of the guys in the tale, but rather Matt Dillon’s confessor*. Reiser and Goodman also have fairly famous confessors, respectively Reiser’s psychiatrist Reba McEntire and Father Richard Jenkins. ONE NIGHT AT MCCOOL’S these guys came across a sexy young woman named Jewel (Liv Tyler), who appeared to be in trouble with her abusive boyfriend (lol fuckin Andrew Dice Clay). Dillon “saves” her in the most half-hearted way possible, and they go home to have hot steamy no-nudity-clause sex while the soundtrack blares GETCHUUU HOT GUUUURLLLL.
Turns out that Liv was going to rob the shit out of Dillon with her boyfriend the morning after, but she just can’t bear to call him up to get it done since… by gum, Dillon’s just so great! MISHAPS mis-happen and Liv and Dillon end up killing the sleazy boyfriend. Now that they are BONDED 4 LYFE, Liv starts fixing up Dillon’s shitty old place with stuff from her scrapbook. She’s got a home deco scrap book! Jewel’s life-long obsession was/is to live in a house that comes straight from the magazines, and she’ll do anything to get it. Soon, she’s got Dillon robbing homes of single guys she seduces to accessorize her new pad. When Dillon starts complaining, she decides it’s time to get some legal counsel (Reiser) and protection (Goodman) and rid herself of this whiny barista. Naturally, shit gets complicated (and murderous) as the three men get at each other’s throats over their special eclectic angel.
MCCOOL’S is a big, broad comedy for mainstream audiences. Some jokes are played for the cheap seats**, but others are pretty dry***, while some are delightfully coarse****. The actors are all really funny and entertaining, although Dillon is perhaps saddled with a boring “nice guy” role. When Reiser is telling his side of the story, Dillon’s always a retarded douchebro, so it’s quite a contrast to see Dillon really let loose in these scenes. Special mention for Liv Tyler, whom I pretty much knew as eye candy from Aerosmith videos, ARMAGEDDON and Arwen in LORD OF THE RINGS. She’s very beautiful, but I always found there was this weird detachedness about her which, of course, was ideal for an Elven Lady or Michael Bay Good Girl. In MCCOOL’S she gets to play nutty, petty and downright sociopathic with aplomb. Her I-just-sucked-down-half-a-roach demeanor actually helps sell it quite well!
I liked this movie perhaps more than I should, as I am always partial to blackly comic movies that show people of some authority and esteem giving in to their lower impulses while trying to maintain a veneer of respectability as everything crumbles around them. Shame about the occasional broadness, but it’s funny with a few hints of not-too-darkness. It’s kinda like a Coen brothers movie for your parents!
*A “confessor” is both the guy confessing and the priest listening to it. How confusing can you get!
**A pretty good set-up that is then wasted by driving it too far has all the men standing next to each other in different types of stereotypical outfits, with a wooden indian at one end – to which a gunman calls them “some Village People motherfuckers”. This was pretty organic, they weren’t dressing up as the Village People or anything, so it was a funny observation, well set up. Then the shootout is set to YMCA for no reason.
***”It’s like you don’t even care if we have a top tier home entertainment system!!” Tyler dramatically intones.
****In the second version we see of Jewel’s rescue from the eyes of a drunk Reiser in his parked car, he just slurs “Titssssss” – end scene.