Movie review: ‘Burn After Watching’ should be burned |

Movie review: ‘Burn After Watching’ should be burned

Special to the Daily


Movie: “Burn After Reading”

Rated: R

Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen

Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton

1.5 stars of 4


Brad Pitt and George Clooney starring in another movie together? From the female perspective, this is always good news for me. John Malkovich and Frances McDormand, as well? Even better. Knowing when these stars collaborate they typically produce entertaining movies, I went in to this film quite optimistic.

“Burn After Reading” starts out with John Malkovich’s character, Osbourne Cox, being let go from the CIA. As his life seems to be in a downward spiral, he decides to write a memoir of his time in public service. His wife, played by Tilda Swinton, mistakenly leaves a copy of these memoirs at her gym (why she made a copy, I’m still unsure). Two gym employees (Pitt and McDormand) come across the files thinking they are top-secret government documents. They plot to blackmail the government in order to receive a reward for the documents, and all goes awry. George Clooney plays a government worker and sex addict who has affairs with both Swinton and McDormand’s characters. He also gets tied into the memoir mess.

Undeniably, there are laugh-out-loud moments throughout this spy-thriller spoof. Pitt delivers a hilarious interpretation of the typical, meat-head fitness trainer, right down to his constant need to hydrate, and his bad, skunk-resembling highlights. Clooney’s role will make you swear off even the thought of Internet dating, and Malkovich’s character is downright crass in every way possible. You cannot help but laugh at his absurdity.

In the end though, you just don’t care enough about the story line for it to all come together. With the Coen brothers directing, I expected the dry, witty comedy that I have come to know and love from their previous works, such as “The Big Lebowski” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” It seems almost as if they didn’t know which direction to take the film after a certain point, so they just ended it.

I suppose they did have potential with this movie (never a statement one likes to hear). So how did they mess this one up with the star-studded cast and all? Oh, that’s right ” a sub-par script from the get go. Better luck next time, boys.

Robbie Jane Paup is a freelance writer for the Vail Daily. E-mail comments about this review to

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