The Coen brothers return to comedy after their bleak Oscar winner No Country for Old Men with their first original screenplay since Intolerable Cruelty. Two clueless gym employees, Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand, find the memoirs of an ex-CIA agent, thinking it is state secrets and try to blackmail him with it.

George Clooney, John Malkovich and Tilda Swinton round out the great cast. Unfortunately, the Coens’ writing, the strong suit of their early career, has run out of steam. The script is largely tone deaf and never gets off the ground. Sheer star power is the only thing keeping it afloat.

Grade: B

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