Starring: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, David Rache, and J.K. Simmons
Directors: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars
When a pair of dimwitted health club employees (McDormand and Pitt) find what they believe is a disk full of highly classified CIA secrets, their get-rich-quick efforts set in motion a series of events that shows that no one causes chaos like the very stupid.
"Burn After Reading" is a movie about hopes, dreams, lies, deception, and betrayal. It's got all the elements you find in spy movies, but they're found here in a story of cheating spouses--half the characters in the film are breaking their marriage vows spectacularly--a burned-out CIA analyst (played by John Malkovich), and the people at the CIA who are so concerned with secrecy that they can't take the simple step of asking "what the hell are you morons doing?"
The purposefully tangled mess that is the movie's plot gains its comedy from the fact that the smartest people in the world can't figure out what a pair of doofus are up to (nor the real causes for the events they set in motion) and it's a source it taps very well.
Hilarious performances by Brad Pitt as the dumbest health fanatic ever, George Clooney as the horniest government employee ever, and Tilda Swinson as a woman so bitchy no-one even dares to imply she's bitchy stand out in particular in this perfectly cast and skillfully acted and directed film. If you liked movies like "Fargo" and "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang", you'll get a kick out of this one as well. It's not quite as good as either of those two films, but it's still fun.