I guess the ads tipped us off that this was not your run of the mill spy thriller, but let me assure you that nothing about this Coen Brothers movie is run of the mill. Following the dark "No Country for Old Men," the brothers have returned to the comic instincts so evident in "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "O Brother Where Art Thou" and other Coen classics.
As usual, the brothers had no trouble attracting some of our most outstanding actresses and actors for their ensemble cast. George Clooney plays an enthusiastic lady's man, Frances McDormand a 40-something fitness club employee determined to follow through on a five-part plastic surgery makeover plan, John Malkovich a sophisticated ex-spook with a "drinking problem," Tilda Swinton the spook's uptight and unhappy pediatrican wife, and Brad Pitt a stupid but likeable personal trainer.
All of their lives intertwine in unexpected and hilarious ways. I was so caught up in the slapstick that when things started to turn a bit dark, I was startled -- but quickly settled in for the rest of the ride.
"Burn After Reading" is in the running for the 2009 Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, and McDormand is one of the finalists for best comic actress. But it's all the little pieces that make a Coen Brothers movie special -- the trip to the drab 100% concrete Russian embassy to sell "secret" data, the priceless posturings of Malcovich (who has the unfortunate name of Osborne Cox), the nonchalance of CIA superior J. K. Simmons, the moony attempts by fitness club manager Richard Jenkins to woo McDormand...let's just say that this is the sort of movie you can watch more than once.