Intolerable Cruelty

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Intolerable Cruelty Movie Poster Image
Screwball comedy for older teens and adults.
  • PG-13
  • 2003
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The characters are greedy, manipulative, and unethical. Some racy humor.


Comic violence including shooting, character killed. Some viewers may be disturbed by a character who is very ill.


Sexual references and situations, no nudity.


Strong language for a PG-13.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie has some mature material for a PG-13, including adulterous situations and some mildly kinky sexual references (nothing explicit and no nudity). It has strong language for a PG-13. There is comic violence that includes guns and one character is killed. Families who have dealt with painful divorces may not find the depiction in this film very entertaining. Some viewers may be disturbed by a character who is very ill. The characters are greedy, manipulative, and unethical, all played for humor.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byErinsmom April 9, 2008

This was War of the Roses revisited but between singles instead of a couple

|This movie had little to redeem itself. The characters were self centered and selfish and it was all but impossible to like or identify with either of them. Ev... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bymoviegeek April 9, 2008

Pretty stupid, to say the least....

After the movie ended, my family looked at eachother and said "HUH?". There wasn't a point to this movie. The two greedy, manipulative, self-cent... Continue reading

What's the story?

INTOLERABLE CRUELTY centers on Miles Massey (George Clooney), a take-no-prisoners matrimonial lawyer able to persuade juries to give everything to even the most apparently guilty spouses. Wealthy Rex Rexroth (Edward Herrmann) is not just apparently but actually guilty of adultery. His wife Marilyn (Catherine Zeta Jones) has hired a private detective (Cedric the Entertainer) who filmed Rex at a motel with a girlfriend. Despite finding Marilyn the most enthralling woman he has even seen, Miles manages to win the day for Rex, leaving Marilyn with nothing. Marilyn finds another rich husband (Billy Bob Thornton) and goes to Miles to get the legendary "Massey pre-nup," an agreement to forego any claims on her new spouse's assets in a divorce. Realizing that Marilyn is up to something but not able to figure out what, Miles is utterly smitten. Before it is over, in classic romantic comedy fashion, everyone will be turned upside down. It is pitbull Miles who gets bitten, literally and figuratively. And Rex may be "nailed" by one video, but a very different video will nail Miles as well.

Is it any good?

The Coen brothers have produced their first all-out romantic comedy, and it's lots of fun to watch. The entire cast is magnificent, tossing off the Coen brothers' trademark corkscrew dialogue with just the right mix of understatement and deadly accuracy. It is an affectionate salute to the conventions of the classics -- it even has a spit take -- but it is contemporary enough for a Clarence Thomas joke and a rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" played on bagpipes.

Like the classic screwball comedies by Preston Sturges and other Coen movies, there are a bunch of colorful supporting characters, and Clooney and Zeta Jones turn in two of the finest comic performances in recent memory. Clooney owns his moment by the way he adjusts his cuff and cocks his head as he meets with his new client. Zeta Jones owns hers by walking down the stairs. Both are triple threats with impeccable comic timing, first-rate acting talent and all the movie star magic in the world as well, which keeps their characters both real and sizzlingly sexy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why independence was so important to Marilyn and why she thought that marrying a wealthy man was the only way she could achieve it.

Movie details

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