Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
Watch On
  1. 63
    The movie has many scenes of delicious comedy, Clooney and Zeta-Jones play their characters perfectly in an imperfect screenplay.
  2. 88
    Takes the traditional romantic comedy and tweaks it by way of "The War of the Roses." Rarely has strife between the sexes been so ruthless, so civilized, and so funny.
  3. 75
    Near the end of this smart, speedy romantic farce, the comic engine hits a wall and sputters. Until then, this Coen brothers film -- easily their silliest -- is fueled by a screwball fizz that keeps the laughs popping.
  4. 70
    A collaboration between the notoriously offbeat Coen brothers and thoroughly mainstream screenwriters Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone, this piquant romantic comedy is both resolutely generic and bristling with barbs that go down with a delicious fizz and leave behind a refreshing blast of tartness.
  5. Intolerable Cruelty, while tolerable, isn't very radical--or very good, either. The Coens wrote the script eight years ago on assignment, not intending to direct it, and that may explain why the result often lacks their customary bizarro facetiousness.
  6. Intolerable Cruelty is a romantic comedy, but it has enough dark, strange, and cynical moments to qualify as a full-fledged part of the Coen canon.
  7. None of this would work, of course, without stylish performances in the leads and Mr. Clooney and Ms. Zeta-Jones do themselves and their dubious characters proud.
  8. With Intolerable Cruelty, though, something scares me: I cannot detect a heartbeat of feeling, no matter how close I press a stethoscope against the star machinery of George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
  9. So clever, so funny, so suavely entertaining that it comes as a shock to realize that it's not nearly as satisfying as all those qualities would lead you to believe.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Not brilliantly funny nor incisively clever, Intolerable Cruelty is still moderately satirical and laugh-out-loud enjoyable.
  11. 75
    The film is often at odds with itself as a sincere work of romantic comedy, as Wilder's sometimes were, too. Nonetheless, it's determined to keep Clooney's considerable comedic skills front and center. He's never been looser, sexier, or more antic.
  12. There are laughs here aplenty, and sexy, goofy, off-the-cuff charm.
  13. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    The glibness exhausts you, and the Coens are emotionally so far outside their subject that Intolerable Cruelty is finally no different from most of the other dumb slapstick spoofs that pass for screwball comedy these days.
  14. 90
    Something not seen in movie theaters for a long time: an intelligent, modern screwball comedy, a minor classic on the order of competent, fast-talking curve balls about deception and greed like Mitchell Leisen's "Easy Living" and Billy Wilder's "Major and the Minor."
  15. The Coens do an efficient job of stamping their signature grotesquerie on sumptuous Beverly Hills and Las Vegas settings and ladling on gallows humor and malice, sometimes with the verve of early Robert Zemeckis.
  16. The results have the Coens' usual tartness most of the way, before turning soft and gooey at the center.
  17. If Intolerable Cruelty isn't a convincing love story, it's a hugely entertaining one, with comic relief -- in the form of Cedric the Entertainer as a voyeuristic private eye and Tom Aldredge as a decaying law-firm boss issuing directives while hooked up to life-support -- piled on top of the comedy.
  18. 80
    Smart, silly, splenetic and a bit smug, it's a movie that might put a viewer's teeth on edge were it not for its winning lead performances.
  19. 83
    A work of gentle, continual hilarity that feels far more ordinary than other Coen works and yet has every bit of the originality and exactness that makes the brothers' best films so wonderful.
  20. Mostly, it's a Coen brothers movie so slick, so careful in rationing its darkly perverse and personal elements, that it seems suspiciously sweet. Intolerable Cruelty feels like the Coens' peculiar new way of being cynical, by pretending they're not.
  21. Elegant, cheerfully cynical fun of the kind we used to get regularly from Billy Wilder, Howard Hawks and other masters of the classic Hollywood screwball comedy -- all those '30s-'40s movies about rich people sloshed, or acting crazy and running romantically amok.
  22. The movie is a delicious, consistently hilarious screwball farce that gives Clooney his best comedy role to date and should finally, forever, lift the Coens into the wide-release movie mainstream.
  23. It's over-the-top. It's wild. It's filled with outrageous behavior all around.
  24. 70
    The Coens engineer a funny, entertaining battle of the sexes here, but the preponderance of indelible male characters and less memorable female roles render it something of a mismatch.
  25. 63
    The fault isn't Clooney's alone. The Coen brothers contrive a few spectacularly funny bits and pieces but rarely get into a flow. Too often they mistake facetiousness for slapstick invention or wit, and they don't follow through on their best ideas.
  26. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Even when the movie sags and strains a bit in Act III, Clooney keeps it flying with old-fashioned movie-star allure. He's got it all: Cary Grant's looks and, inside, Bob Hope's snake-oil-salesman soul.
  27. Zeta-Jones is merely ravishing, but Clooney owns the film. Ordinarily best at sardonic, man's-man confidence, he strides through Intolerable Cruelty with fantastic screwball zest. To see Clooney tenderize, season, grill, and serve this ham hock of a role is to see an old-fashioned virtuoso in perpetual motion.
  28. 50
    Intolerable Cruelty seems the kind of movie that results from two essentially erudite, anarchic talents playing down to the masses.
  29. 63
    If it's not quite as funny as you want it to be, it's still more than enough to keep you entertained.
  30. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    A thoroughly entertaining comedy about love, lawyers and fat divorce settlements. While a slight imbalance in the romantic formula stops it just short of truly soaring, the crackling dialogue and buoyant wordplay make this a delightful throwback to classic screwball comedies.
  31. The first half of Intolerable Cruelty is more than tolerable; it's a dopey kick full of goofy jokes tossed off so quickly you're reminded less of bickering-bantering Grant and Rosalind Russell than Groucho and Chico Marx.
  32. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    While it's not nearly as beguiling as the Coen's last pic, the uncanny "The Man Who Wasn't There," Cruelty is still a brisk hoot.
  33. 70
    Has a solid farce structure, a bunch of ripe second bananas, and two sinfully attractive stars ready to raise comic hell. So why is a movie with so many genuine laughs and so many good bits only fitfully amusing? The short answer is that the Coen brothers seem to be incapable of trusting their material.
  34. 88
    Hilariously overblown, "Cruelty" fairly pops at the seams with the beloved eccentricity of Joel and Ethan Coen, from the fiendishly ludicrous scenarios and casually tossed off visual gags to the razor-sharp repartee.
  35. It is wonderful for what it is: a delightful, thoroughly satisfying comedy of modern manners.
  36. 50
    This is a decidedly hit or miss deal which, despite the current outpouring of critical praise, is destined to rank among the Coen's least memorable achievements.
  37. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Tight as a drum, glamorous and exquisitely funny, this one should earn them (Coens) enough cash to make five more offbeat minor masterpieces like "The Man Who Wasn't There" -- and the Coens deserve that as much as we do.
  38. Reviewed by: Jean Oppenheimer
    The Coen brothers had a golden opportunity to make a darkly humorous, deliciously clever battle of the sexes, and they let it slip through their fingers. Instead, the duo... settled for a broad farce that is long on manic, cartoonish behavior and short on intelligence and wit.
  39. Reviewed by: Ruthie Stein
    Too slick but amusing marital farce.
  40. Reviewed by: Chris Barsanti
    Probably the Coen’s funniest movie since “Raising Arizona.”
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 102 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 53
  2. Negative: 23 out of 53
  1. Dec 9, 2014
    There are some nice laugh-out-loud moments in this and it's good to see Catherine ZJ with her Welsh lilt counterbalancing the grey wolf :) AThere are some nice laugh-out-loud moments in this and it's good to see Catherine ZJ with her Welsh lilt counterbalancing the grey wolf :) A fun film with some pointed comments to make. Full Review »
  2. Mar 8, 2011
    It is safe to say that this film is not what I expected at all but it did have some elements that make it worthy of having a higher end score;It is safe to say that this film is not what I expected at all but it did have some elements that make it worthy of having a higher end score; those being George Clooney showing his comedic side and the addition of Catherine Zeta Jones. I would perhaps rate it slightly higher if I didn't get distracted half way though. Full Review »
  3. ricardod
    Apr 13, 2009
    Extremely funny, extremely smart and extremely well performed. worth it all the way. coen brothers, you did it again.