Burn After Reading (2008)


Directors: Joel & Ethan Coen

Writers: Joel & Ethan Coen

The Coens are just absolutely great at writing dumb people.  This is a pretty low key follow up to their big hit No Country For Old Men and I think it has been largely forgotten since it’s release only 3 years ago.  This was my first time watching it since its original theatrical release and I think I enjoyed it even more than I did the first time.

This follows I guess what you could say is the typical Coen storyline of people with little intelligence getting wrapped up in plots and schemes that they don’t really understand and the fallout of their actions.  In this one bonehead gym employees Chad and Linda (played by Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) find a disc containing an ex-CIA agent’s (John Malkovich) memoirs.  Thinking they have stumbled upon something valuable they attempt to sell it to fund Linda’s plastic surgery.

The whole cast is great doing the kind of dumb nieve performances reminiscent of past Coen films like O Brother Where Art Thou? and Raising Arizona.  In the end the film isn’t really about the plot itself, just like the kidnapping plot in The Big Lebowski isn’t really that important, but about the characters and the lengths to which they go for things they don’t really understand.  I love that they frame it like a CIA espionage film but it really isn’t at all.

Towards the end when all of the plot lines start to come together Clooney shoots Pitt’s character in the face and I swear I rewound and watched it 6 or 7 times just to see the smile on Pitt’s face.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and it is that kind of risks and odd choices that I love about the Coens  Why does Clooney spend the whole film building a dildo rocking chair and carrying around a Liberator sex pillow?  I have no idea, it isn’t really important but shit is it funny.  The type of humor on display here isn’t for everyone and I get that but it hits me in all the right spots.  I feel like if Comedy Central or another cable channel started running this movie it would become a cult movie in the realm of an Office Space or The Big Lebowski.

I really think I had forgotten how funny this movie is.  The whole cast is great and it really is a treat to watch and I think it is time this movie got its due in the Coen Canon

About Jon Watches Movies

My name is Jon and I live in New Jersey. These are the movies I have watched since January 1, 2011.
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