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One Night at McCool's (November 30/01)

Liv Tyler stars as a sexy vixen that's able to coerce men into doing whatever she wants them to do - simply by becoming their fantasy. The three men of the picture - Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman - have different fantasies and Tyler taps into each without difficulty (Goodman wants a carbon-copy of his recently deceased wife, Reiser wants a sadomasochistic relationship, while Dillon wants a housewife/slut). The bulk of the film is told in flashback, as each man relates the story of how Tyler caused their downfall to someone. Eventually, the three stories intersect, culminating in a bizarre Tarantino-esque shoot-out.

The biggest problem with One Night at McCool's is Tyler. She's not a bad actress - with the right material she can be quite appealing - but this role is just all wrong for her. Given that she looks like a 10-year-old boy, it's a little hard to accept that these three guys would fall so completely in love with her. This is a role that should have been filled by an actress like Charlize Theron - someone who exudes sexuality. Instead, you've got Tyler - a pretty but nondescript actress that seems like she would be more at home playing a tomboy.

But even if Tyler's role were to be recast, this would still be a lousy movie. It's so wrapped up in its quirkiness, it never settles down and becomes anything. It jerkily jumps from comedy to drama to out-and-out action without hesitation, causing confusion and irritation for the viewer. As Quentin Tarantino proved with Pulp Fiction, this isn't necessarily a bad thing - provided it's done right. But in the hands of director Harald Zwart, this genre-shifting quickly becomes tiresome. It's no surprise that Zwart got his start in commercials; you can almost see him losing patience a few minutes into each sequence.

The performances - other than Tyler, of course - are fun though, especially Michael Douglas as a cheesy, '70s style hitman. And the comedian formerly known as Dice is here, too, except under the name Andrew Silverstein. But no matter how good the actors may be, it doesn't make up for the incredible lameness of the script. As a freebie One Night at McCool's might be worth a look, but otherwise you'd be better off spending a night at your local bar, getting hammered.

Oh, and I feel compelled to mention one thing about this movie that really bugged me. Throughout the movie, Tyler's character is obsessed with stealing a DVD player. But she (and the other characters) refer to it as "the DVD". It's a DVD player, not a DVD. This really irritated me, and made the movie seem even suckier.

out of