Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, starring George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, Paul Adelstein, Cedric the Entertainer, Edward Herrmann and Geoffrey Rush.

Legendary Beverly Hills divorce lawyer Miles Massey (Clooney) is bored with life. "The struggle, challenge and ultimate destruction of your opponent" don't do it for him anymore, but he's so good at his job, he doesn't know anything else. Enter Rex Rexroth (Herrmann), a millionaire whose love of blondes and train driver fantasies has him staring down the express tunnel of a divorce from wife Marylin (Zeta-Jones). Rex thinks he has his priorities right - Marylin deserves nothing - and hires the legend to do the mauling. But when the case is over, Miles still can't get Marilyn out of his head and decides there's more to her and him than arguments about money across a courtroom.

If you thought the Coen Brothers' last outing, 'The Man Who Wasn't There', was too long and too slow, then prepare for an about turn. This one moves quicker and feels shorter - so short that you might be tempted to bang on the projectionist's window and ask if a reel has gone AWOL. The Coens' first job as directors for hire - they also re-worked the script - is like two different films spliced together. One of them has their classic quirkiness (over-the-top characters, snappy lines); the other is what Hollywood brings back up every other week. 'Intolerable Cruelty' will get them their widest audience yet, although anyone who has laughed with them this long will say something's got lost in transit and newcomers could complain that the slush density isn't right.

Much of the disappointment comes from the pairing of Clooney and Zeta-Jones. His character lacks the charm of McGill from 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' and the cool of Foley from 'Out of Sight' while Zeta-Jones is stuck in a role with too much gloss and not enough grit. Put them together and the scenes don't sizzle, they just look great.

Had the Coens been the only ones involved in this film from the typewriter up, it's possible we would've got the genre-hopping, madcap antics they excel at. Instead, there isn't enough for them to work with here and the story fizzles out as fast as some Vegas marriages. It has some good gags, but then so did 'The Wedding Singer'.

Harry Guerin