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John Malcovich is a government agent, George Clooney is some Finance Department administrator with a gun. Frances McDormand is working in a fitness club, where Brad Pitt works out day and night, but just his arms, never his brains. Clooney screws Malcovich’s wife, Malcovich gets fired, Clooney shoots Pitt in the face, McDormand tries to sell Malcovich’s laundry list to the Russians, Juno’s father is running the CIA and is trying figure out when exactly did the world around him go loopy (“Is that all now?” – “There’s one more thing…”). Then the film is over.

The Coen brothers may be responsible for some of the funniest moments I have experienced in cinema, in particular “Raising Arizona” and some bits from “The Big Lebowski” involving John Torturro stand out. The last 5 years of comedy, however, was a letdown. I could not bring myself to watch “Intolerable Cruelty”, and when I dared watching their remake of “Ladykillers” I almost lost faith. These days, their comedy is much more funny when injected through the syringe of drama, as “No Country” showed, but also “Fargo” had proven earlier. Plain comedic adventures by the Coens, I have now confirmed after watching “Burn after Reading” are not my piece of cake, to say the least. While there are funny moments (the scenes in the CIA headquarters with JK Simmons getting almost emotional about all these pillars of secret service crumbling around him; and – yes! – the moment that marks the death of the Brad Pitt character caused everybody in the room to laugh out loud), but there is little humour and certainly there is very little fun beyond some screwball moments. In the words of Dr Kermode: That’s allright if they need a “Burn after Reading” to clean their systems and be able to make another “No country for old men”.

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