By EW Staff
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:08 AM EDT
  • Movie

For anyone who somehow fails to notice how ”va va va voom!” Liv Tyler is in One Night at McCool’s, the movie provides us with that always useful visual aid, the ”soaping up the car in a clingy dress” scene. Tyler makes dutiful love to the bubbles, the chassis, the spurting garden hose. The sequence, set to a cover of Gary Wright’s ”Love Is Alive,” unfolds like a particularly yummy piece of Madison Avenue consumer porn. But the entire sudsy peep show turns out to be the setup for a ba dum bum punchline, as Tyler’s bartender sap of a boyfriend, played by Matt Dillon at his most gawky stupido, turns to his cousin (Paul Reiser) and says, ”You should see what she does with my hose!” Talk about a joke that leaves the audience limp.

How, exactly, should one pinpoint the awfulness of ”One Night at McCool’s”? More than just dumb, the picture is embarrassingly dorky. It’s like a bad sitcom version of a Tarantino film noir, as directed by Ed Wood from a script by Alex Portnoy. There’s a weirdly dated quality to the movie’s overstatement, whether it’s the mother fixation jokes, the ”naughty” bondage jokes, a dual appearance by the former Andrew Dice Clay (still bellowing, but now billed as Andrew Silverstein — as if that would make us forget), a bedroom tryst accompanied by the imaginative disco lyrics ”sexy body,” or Tyler’s breathy, naive, neoMarilyn shtick as a vamp named Jewel who’s obsessed with home furnishings and who seduces one geek after another, even though she could almost be wearing a sign that reads ”Not What She Seems.”

Why would someone make a movie centered around a bar named McCool’s, anyway? They might as well have called it the ”Totally Happenin’ Bro Saloon.” Michael Douglas, who shows up as a horndog in an ugly graying Elvis pompadour, produced this mess, which makes you wonder whether he owed somebody a favor. No one emerges from ”One Night at McCool’s” unscathed, but I only hope that Liv Tyler doesn’t allow herself to be converted from promising ingenue to walking pinup. There are far better tactics for becoming a star than sudsing your way to glory.

One Night at McCool's

  • Movie
  • R
  • 93 minutes
  • Harald Zwart