Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon, John Goodman, Paul Reiser, Michael Douglas
Director: Harald Zwart
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.77:1
Studio: USA Home Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 93 Minutes
Release Date: October 9, 2001

“Take the DVD!”

“I’m not taking the DVD.”


“I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem right.”

“It was right before.”

“Right, before there was a dead body laying next to it.”

Film ***

One Night at McCool’s is one of those movies that was made simply for the male species, especially those who can’t resist a good look at Liv Tyler, whose character in the movie sparks attention from three different men, each of whom have different opinions of her. She plays Jewel Valentine, and boy is she ever a piece of work, both in looks and cons. For every man that she comes across, she sees an instant opportunity to control his mind in order to get anything and everything that she wants, and she is totally flawless at doing so.

The plot of the movie is told from three different points of view, by the three men who Jewel has webbed in her tangled up, convoluted game. Each guy’s story has a lot in common, particularly when and where the whole started, which was one night at McCool’s, a local bar. First, there’s Randy (Matt Dillon), a struggling bartender who rescues Jewel from what appears as an attack from her abusive husband, and immediately falls in love with her. Later in the evening, the angry husband meets them back and the bar, and right when he initiates a robbery, Jewel kills him, telling Randy that he was about to kill him. They soon move into Randy’s broken down home, which was left to him by his mother. Jewel, always dreaming of a wonderful looking house to live in, soon helps in turning the wreck into a nice looking home.

The second man turned on by Jewel is Randy’s cousin, Carl (Paul Reiser), a slimeball lawyer. Carl, who is married and has two kids, appreciates Jewel simply for her outstanding figure, and nothing much else. Having her and Randy over for a cookout, he can’t seem to be focused on anything else, except for visioning Jewel in her sexiest attire flirting with his wife, and asking him to join in.

The third man attracted to Jewel is honest cop Charlie (John Goodman), who confesses to a priest his obsession with the sexpot, whom he thinks is nothing short of a reincarnation of his dead wife. He is linked to Jewel through his investigation of the murder at McCool’s, but feels as if fate chose him to investigate Jewel, so he proceeds to protect the woman, no matter how twisted she might be.

The rest of the movie consists of Randy paying professional hit man Mr. Burmeister to take out Jewel in the aftermath of a nasty act of betrayal. Burmeister is played by a somewhat unrecognizable Michael Douglas, who dons buck teeth, and a 70s hair style and fashion that makes him look more like an extra off of Starsky and Hutch. The characters are brought together for a dynamite climax that is both violent and hysterically funny.

The movie is a neat blend of film noir and physical comedy, with an array of characters that seem very believable in their motivations and actions. And at the center of the attention is Liv Tyler, who has never looked more incredible on screen. DVD fans alone will definitely appreciate Jewel’s desires for DVD players, as it turns out to be one of her top fetishes. The DVD market couldn’t receive a more terrific form of compliment.

Video ****

By far the absolute best video transfer I’ve ever seen from USA. Presented in a glorious anamorphic quality, the image comes off crisp and a hundred percent clear. Most of the scenes in the movie are shot in bright settings, in which the colors come alive with a vibrant power and a well-contained manner. In the past, every disc I’ve watched from USA has had a least one instance of grain, softness, or color bleeding, and I am pleased to note that One Night at McCool’s doesn’t contain any of those flaws, and comes off as the studio’s best DVD release since Being John Malkovich.

Audio ***1/2

USA also surprises in the audio department, with their best sounding disc since, once again, Being John Malkovich. This 5.1 presentation provides a sound quality that comes alive with both loud moments and quit moments as well. Songs in the movie especially impress with their sound quality, including a standout moment near the end of the movie that includes a shootout with the song “YMCA” playing in the background. A seriously impressive piece of work from a studio that is showing some signs of improvement.

Features ***1/2

USA seems unpredictable in their choice of discs to which load feats of extras on. The goods founded this disc are at the level I wished they had applied to their disc for Traffic. There are some neat features here, including several behind the scenes documentaries, including footage of make up, wardrobe tests and a cast read through session, deleted scenes, two music videos; including Joan Osborne’s “Love is Alive” and “Velvet” by A-ha, yes, A-ha (I thought I’d never see them resurrected, either).  The disc also features storyboard comparisons, trailers and television spots. A nicely put-together package.


One Night at McCool’s is a saucy and sharply made piece of comedic noir. The cast is a terrific one, looking as if they are having the time of their lives performing in this caper. And Liv Tyler’s seductive presence is the key enjoyment, indeed.