Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Burn After Reading

I ignored Burn After Reading when it came out, as the reviews were weak. My love of the subject matter (spies in DC) finally pushed me to rent it. It's certainly not in the top tier of the Coen Brothers movies, but it is better than the average comedy for certain.

This one is all about the goof-ball characters, nearly all of whom are numbskulls. Brad Pitt's gym instructor is the most obviously dull, but even the supposedly whip-smart CIA analyst played by John Malkovish is a buffoon. In the extra features, the Coens say they came up with the characters and then the story and that shows. The plot is mostly an excuse to have the characters collide in crazy ways. The best character, to my mind, is George Clooney's sex (and jogging) obsessed US Marshall. He moves into a parody of the main characters of political paranoia films that is great fun to watch.

I suppose my biggest complaint is that it can't decide if it wants to be a black comedy or not. It starts out mostly as farce and then slides into a farcish black comedy that doesn't get really dark until the final moments. At that point it felt out of synch with the rest of the movie.

If you don't mind spoilers, not that they are that important, here is every line by John Malkovich in the movie. The number of eff bombs is impressive, most impressive.

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