“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” – Ernest Hemingway
The “Massey pre-nup”, a supposedly foolproof, unbreakable prenuptial agreement is at the heart of the Coen Brother’s attempt at recreating the magic of early Hollywood screwball comedy, as frequently brought up as it is immediately torn apart in the name of love. Strangely, that might just be a fitting metaphor for the messy, contradictory, and downright odd film that it is. It hints at the potential of something greater than it is, only to have mainstream convention and plot contrivances mire the facade. The first job as “writers-for-hire” for the Coens, it gives off the impression of several screenwriters all trying to cram their large, misshapen pegs into a circular hole. And it’s hard to hold that against the pair, as the original concept and developed screenplay were each created by different people before it to eventually landed in their lap. There are occasional moments where their vision shines through, but they are few and far between, leaving a jumping, befuddling piece of work. It can’t seem to make up its mind between appealing to mainstream audiences or adding dashes of Coen absurdity and philosophy, leaving it somewhere in the middle in an area that’s bland, and ultimately disappointing.