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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » One Night At McCool's
One Night At McCool's
USA // R // October 9, 2001
List Price: $24.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 1, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Watching "One Night At McCools", I wondered what Michael Douglas saw in this film enough to not only act in it, but produce it. An almost completely laugh-free zone, the film often seems more like something that one would catch on cable when one doesn't have much else to do than something that would get a theatrical release.

The film revolves around the three men in the life of Jewel Valentine (Liv Tyler) who's had a different effect on all three of them. The main character is Randy (Matt Dillon), a bartender who saved Jewel from an abusive boyfriend outside the dive bar he works at. He's telling his tale to Mr. Burmeister (Michael Douglas), a sleezy hitman who he's met up with in a bingo parlor. Carl (Paul Reiser - I still wonder why "Mad About You" lasted what seemed like 17 years) is Randy's obnoxious cousin, a major lawyer who discusses his meeting with Jewel with his psychiatrist (Reba McEntire). Last, but not least, there's Dehling (John Goodman) , a cop investigating the death of Jewel's "boyfriend" who also happens to be in love with her, as well.All of this is told in flashback, as we see Jewel's manipulation of all of various men, who fall in love with her at first sight in slo-mo, soft-focus sequences.

During the commentary for the "Usual Suspects" DVD, writer Christopher McQuarrie discussed the fact that characters should be equally smart - in that case, the police being as smart as the criminals. What's the interest in having one smart character fool a lot of dumb ones, as the end result becomes rather obvious. That's the problem here, as the three main male characters in "One Night At McCools" are easily manipulated simpletons who are easy pushovers, which makes things particularly uninvolving.

Tyler is simply the best part of "McCools". Looking to shed her rather pure image, she's very sexy here and her flirty performance is enjoyable - plus, she should stay a redhead. The three leads are decent - Dillon provides a respectable performance, but he's playing his usual character. Goodman is slightly amusing at times, but Reiser is simply irritating. Douglas's wild hairstyle is about the funniest part of his small role.

"McCools" does have a rather interesting plot - three different people remembering, "Rashomon"-like, the effect that a woman had on them. It's too bad that all three characters are so uninteresting. Personally, I was actually rooting for Jewel, who simply dreams of having a house of her own and a good sound system with a DVD player.

Not only is the film not very funny and somewhat slow moving, but it seems too pleased with itself. I liked Tyler, but wished the character was in a different movie with a different supporting cast and different screenplay. Neither funny or very sexy, "One Night At McCools" is often simply just tedious.


VIDEO: USA Films presents "One Night At McCools" in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen edition. Although there's some little flaws here and there with the presentation, USA Films does a very fine job here. Sharpness and detail are quite solid, with a few minor exceptions and those shots of Jewel that are in mega-soft focus.

The few problems visible in the presentation didn't really distract very much. I noticed a couple of tiny instances of pixelation and edge enhancement, but these were extremely minor. Print flaws were minimal, as well - I noticed a couple of speckles and a mark or two. A few scenes appeared lightly grainy, as well. Colors appeared fairly strong, looking bright and natural, with no instances of smearing or other problems. Flesh tones also looked accurate. This is a very nice transfer, but some minor problems keep it from greatness.

SOUND: "One Night At McCools" actually boasts a fairly enjoyable Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which was rather unexpected, given the material. Although the film's soundtrack is certainly not agressive, the surrounds are involved on a fairly consistent basis, either offering some ambient sounds, a couple of sound effects or the cheesy score (the score behind the film's final sequence sounds like something out of an 80's cop show) and the songs on the soundtrack. The audio quality seemed strong, as the score came through strongly and dialogue sounded clear and easily understood. A fairly decent effort, it's a step above the usual "comedy" soundtrack.

MENUS:: Nicely animated main and sub-menus, complete with the score (yes, the same piece of score that I mentioned in the audio portion) in the background.


Making Of: Director Harold Zwart has produced a 9-minute "making of" that takes us onto the set of "McCools". There's some behind-the-scenes footage cut together with on-set interviews with the cast about the picutre. Although the opening of the documentary would lead one to believe that this is another one of those intimate, well-produced DVD documentaries that takes the viewer onto the set, there's quite a few promotional bits pushed in between the behind-the-scenes bits.

Music Videos: A-Ha's "Velvet" and Joan Osborne's "Love Is Alive".

Trailers/TV Spots: The film's theatrical trailer and 4 TV spots.

Deleted Scenes: 4 deleted scenes are shown, as well as an alternate ending. All 5 have optional director's commentary to discuss why they were cut. Some of these sequences are slightly amusing, but don't really help move the film along.

Costume Design: The film's costume designer provides commentary while footage of Tyler showing off in the different outfits plays.

Read Through: The film's very first read-through with the cast is shown here. Certain scenes from the film play, while another box in the upper corner of the film shows footage of the cast's first rehersal.

Where Did We Shoot That?: The DVD's most interesting feature, this section offers a map of the film's different locations. When a location is selected, images from the set as well as narration discuss how this set was changed/worked with for the film.

Storyboard-to-Film Comparison: Storyboard-to-scene comparisons are shown for the film's opening and ending sequences.

Also: There's one featurette that gives away how a part of the ending was done.

Final Thoughts: "McCools" certainly doesn't succeed at being funny and, with the exception of Tyler's car-wash sequence, being sexy, either. USA Films offers a fairly strong DVD, with good audio/video quality and a handful of supplements. Some may find it a decent rental, but most would be better off looking elsewhere at the rental store.

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