Movie Review: Burn After Reading (2008) by Mike

By Mike

September 15, 2008 Movies Reviews No comments

Whatever the legacy is that the Coen brothers leave with their latest film, Burn After Reading, at least college students will have a new method in which to partake in drinking games. It will go down with such legendary contests like the number of Roxanne/Put on the Red Lights said during that famous Police song.

This new version will be called the John Malkovich ‘What the F*ck’ Drinking Game, which should end up with most players completely trashed after only a few minutes.

It was also one of the more hilarious parts of the film. In some scenes, that’s all Malkovich can utter because he’s so completely baffled by what is happening around him.

Malkovich plays Osbourne Cox, and is a member of an all-star cast featuring George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand. But some of the supporting cast, specifically J.K. Simmons and David Rache, got the biggest laughs in a few instances.

The plot of the film is all over the place. First you have Linda Litzke (McDormand) who is an older woman wanting to “reinvent” herself, meaning breast implants and host of other surgeries. She works at a gym with Chad Feldheimer (Pitt) and together they end up trying to blackmail someone over some information found on a compact disc.

That someone is Cox, an ex-CIA agent. He’s married to Katie (Swinton), who is cheating on her husband with Harry Pfarrer (Clooney), and is planning a divorce. Pfarrer is working on a special project in his basement and isn’t really sure about Katie’s ideas for them both to leave their significant others.

How they all end up intertwined and related it for you to discover. I’ve said enough.

Ethan and Joel Coen definitely have their own style when it comes to making movies. This is a sometimes violent, dark comedy with a subtle sense of humor. There are some scenes (especially the final one) that caused me to practically roll out of my seat from laughing so hard.

But it also dragged in a few places, especially early on when I was waiting for the first act to end (the setup) and the real meat of the film to get going.

The story is great, the way things connect and the confusion among the entire cast at what is really happening is very entertaining.

Definitely another worthy addition to the Coens’ history of great films.

Mike’s Rating: 7.5 “What the F*cks” out of 10