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‘McCool’s’ not a very cool film

Zwart’s misses mark is a jumble of flashiness and undeveloped characters

A gaudy snow globe that Randy, played by Matt Dillon, carries with him as a symbol of hope in his life is the central figure in Harald Zwart’s “One Night at McCools.”

Actually, the snow globe serves more as a metaphor for the film itself. “One Night at McCool’s” is no more than a confused jumble of flashiness, sex and violence set to a dark comedy theme atop an attempt at serious emotion — all of which could float aimlessly around inside a clunky souvenir glass ball.

Though there seems to be less of a plot than a series of filler scenes, the basic premise involves three men — Randy; Carl, played by Paul Reiser; and Detective Dehling, played by John Goodman. Each has become spellbound by his own naãve and trusting sensitivity to the manipulative and deadly Jewel, played by Liv Tyler.

That Jewel is the epitome of sexual fantasy, despite what the camera angles tell you, is only part of the problem. These guys have fallen victim to their own idealized feelings and have become tangled in a life-threatening mess with this vixen.

Unfortunately, the disordered collage of infrequently successful humor, gratuitous pseudo-erotica, unconventional film editing and mostly unnecessary violence tend to dilute the focus from the crystallization of characters.

Ultimately their lives, and in some cases deaths, feel more like dreams — it’s hard to laugh or cry at this flick. Exiting the colorful and pop-culture-soaked theater, we are left dazed and unmoved.

The fatal flaw of “One Night at McCool’s” is that, perhaps, it did not know what it wanted to achieve except maybe to be catchy. That would explain the random casting of Reba McEntire as a caricature psychologist and Michael Douglas’ ridiculous pompadour hairstyle.

Occasionally skewed into the mixture are fortuitous cuts of Penthouse-worthy Tyler sequences — minus the full nudity but slightly over the top nonetheless. There also is a scene in which Andrew Dice Clay, dressed like a salesman and armed with a machine gun, wreaks havoc on the boys while The Village People’s “YMCA” rocks our heads.

Although there is some underlying story of loss — Randy misses his mom — Carl wants a sense of self-worth, Detective Dehling only wants to venerate the memory of his deceased wife and Jewel is just looking for a nice house to fix up. With all the MTV-style glitz hogging the screen, how could any coherence not be washed out of this film?

It all becomes isolated in an inaccessible universe — snowflakes in a globe that are more novelty than anything else, and even at that, the film is not terribly exciting. You might be entertained by the sparkle of this movie — and isn’t Tyler a hottie — but who will really remember “One Night at McCool’s” a month from now?

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