“Burn After Reading” is Joel and Ethan Coen’s first venture since they won four Academy Awards last year for their film “No Country for Old Men.” Their Oscars included Best Directing, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.
The film is a crime comedy about two personal trainers who find a disc of highly sensitive material at their gym. The movie turns into something more like a huge, confusing game of Clue when they attempt to sell the information back to the rightful owner.
The film is filled with familiar faces: Brad Pitt, George Clooney, J.K. Simmons (you may remember him as the father from “Juno,”) Frances McDormand and John Malkovich, who plays Osbourne Cox, a very temperamental and foul-mouthed government employee around whom the story revolves.
The film goes back and forth with the different character’s story lines revealing more and more about their lives, until in the end they all tie together.
Clooney offers another one of his neurotic, jumpy, paranoid characters in this film. His jerkiness, concern for his lactose intolerance and all around governmental suspicion drive him to a character that Clooney has made himself known for. He still has the ability to surprise you here and there with a good laugh
But it must be said that Pitt makes this movie. His character Chad Feldheimer, from his first three seconds on the screen, gets you laughing. Chad is an eccentric gym trainer who, despite probably not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, ends up being hilarious.
Pitt is known for his trademark laugh, and it is heard throughout the film. In times where seriousness should prevail, Pitt’s distinguishable laugh and delivery upstages the rest of the movie. Audiences can safely say that he saves the movie from any boring down time. Yet his performance can only carry the film so far.
After the end of the movie, the viewer is left asking questions and not really knowing what the point was nor what went on at all.
Despite the laughs that are present, they are not frequent enough to alleviate the confusion the audience can end up feeling. Viewers may feel a little cheated and left out in the cold.
But if you are looking for some good old one-liners to throw at your friends during a party, you can grab a few from here. Supplied by Pitt’s character, viewers can walk away with some gems that could help lighten a mood or make you smile during that boring Wednesday night lecture.
An interesting fact about the film is that the Coen brothers wrote it around the same time they wrote “No Country for Old Men,” alternating between the two scripts every day, according to Internet Movie Database Web site.
Also, the characters of Osbourne Cox and Chad Feldheimer were written with Malkovich and Pitt in mind. Even more impressive: the “F” word is said a grand total of 60 times, six times in the first two sentences alone.
“Burn After Reading” is currently showing at Edwards Cinema in La Verne, Laemmle’s Theatres in Claremont, and the AMC Theatres at Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga.
Alex Senyo can be reached at