A league of morons

Brad Pitt playing a character that looks indisputably “Chad-y”
-Photo Courtesy Focus Features

Ashley Goetz

Brad Pitt playing a character that looks indisputably “Chad-y” -Photo Courtesy Focus Features

âÄúBurn After ReadingâÄù Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen Starring: George Clooney, John Malkovich, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt Rated: R Showing at: Area theaters Fresh off their Oscar win for âÄúNo Country for Old Men,âÄù the Coen Brothers have made their return to the original screenplay with âÄúBurn After Reading,âÄù a complex and comedic caper in the vein of âÄúRaising Arizona.âÄù After seven long years without an original piece, audiences are once again privileged to witness the wonderful conventions of a Coen farce, including foul-mouthed characters, a wacky, multi-layered plot and a handful of memorably unintelligent schemers, futilely attempting to achieve their outlandish and unscrupulous goals. The story revolves around a misplaced disk containing information on an ex-CIA agent named Osborne Cox (John Malkovich ). When two gym employees (Brad Pitt , Frances McDormand ) stumble upon the missing disk, they decide to blackmail Cox in order to pay for plastic surgery. At the same time, CoxâÄôs wife (Tilda Swinton ) is sleeping around and preparing to divorce him. One might feel bad for Cox, that is, if he werenâÄôt such a jerk. The characters, as is the case with most Coen brothers movies, are generally despicable, but all the while entertaining. The film boasts an impressive cast, but the funniest characters are those of George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Clooney plays a sex-crazed treasury agent that is secretly building a mysterious device in his basement, while spending the rest of his time fooling around with every female character in the movie. Brad Pitt takes a great comedic turn as Chad Feldheimer , an employee of Hardbodies gym and an utter moron. J.K. Simmons also gives a hilarious, though brief, performance as a bewildered CIA superior trying to figure out what the hell is going on amidst the seemingly random acts of violence and deceit. The direction is comedic in its own right, as the Coens deftly spoof the spy genre. They employ a handful of camera techniques that subtly mimic more serious suspense films, while simultaneously working to lead the audience in directions they might not expect. This occurs notably at times when ClooneyâÄôs character is being followed by an enigmatic black car. The score, by Coen flick regular Carter Burwell , lent a hand to the spoof mission by providing dramatic tension throughout the film. By applying dark musical themes to an otherwise comedic film, Burwell provides suspense and mystery, forcing the audience to think they are actually watching an intricate crime drama. But âÄúBurnâÄù ultimately left something to be desired. The multiple plotlines, along with the quantity of major characters, doesnâÄôt allow for much individual development over the brief 96-minute run . In addition, certain plot points, like those concerning Pitt and McDormand dealing the stolen disk to the Russian embassy, seem to be somewhat unnecessary. Regardless of its faults, the film excels at imitating spy movies and functions as a lighthearted (by Coen standards) screwball comedy. ItâÄôs still better than half the movies out there.