“Everywhere you go, there”s a dead guy,” states Randy (Matt Dillon), the bartender at McCool”s bar. This somewhat describes the scene when Jewel (Liv Tyler) is around. She is a woman who starts manipulating men from the moment she enters the movie, yanked out of a supposed-attacker”s car by Randy.
Pretending to be a victim of an attempted rape, Jewel lies her way into Randy”s home and bed. While there, she reveals that she and her boyfriend feign fights on a regular basis so she can get into an unsuspecting man”s house, wait for her boyfriend to come, and the two will steal everything.
The real trouble begins when Jewel”s boyfriend Utah (one of two roles played by Andrew Silverstein, a.k.a. Andrew Dice Clay) shows up and demands they return to the bar to get into the safe. While there, Jewel kills Utah because she actually likes Randy, an event that spawns the other plots in the movie.
Detective Dehling (John Goodman) arrives at the scene to investigate, and Carl (Paul Reiser) reveals to his therapist (Reba McEntire) that he saw the feigned fight that brought Randy and Jewel together. Every principle man in the movie is completely seduced by Jewel”s beauty and sexuality, and she manages to manipulate each to get what she wants: The old American dream of owning one”s own home.
The various perspectives in the storyline form the different plots. Each story has a different narrator Randy tells the hitman he has hired to kill Jewel (Michael Douglas), Dehling tells his priest (who also is seduced by Jewel) and Carl tells his therapist. As the perspectives change, so do the ways in which the actors play out their roles.
What the men ultimately reveal is Jewel”s seductive versatility. She goes from a wide-eyed, innocent Marilyn Monroe-type to a Bettie Page-style dominatrix, depending on the sexual fantasies of the men she”s seducing.
Page and Monroe are not the only “50s influences in the movie Detective Dehling”s story especially takes on the feel of a detective drama, which trickles through the rest of the movie in the form of melodramatic voice-overs. Even the sets and costumes call to mind the unnatural, too-bright coloration of older movies. The film coordinates most of the colors in each scene. This, along with Tyler”s emphasized beauty and sexiness, makes the movie wonderful to look at.
The combination of clever writing by Stan Seidel and direction by Harald Swart (who makes his feature film debut) creates a dark comedy that, at first, is confusing because the scenes jump from one to the next rapidly, and the facts of the men”s stories occasionally conflict with each other.
When all of the stories come together, though, so do many strange and amusing details that did not necessarily seem important throughout the movie. Much of this happens in a scene inspired by the Village People. The result is a complicated but well-done movie that one could probably see more than once and discover new and interesting details.
Tyler is irresistible and very convincing as she plays multiple characters in one. Dillon at first seems a bit flat, but subtle changes in his character throughout the different perspectives allow for his talent to shine. Overall, the characters are often unlikable, but intentionally so.
The comedy is often dark, originating in people”s deaths, and is occasionally uncomfortable to laugh at. Still, it is unquestionably funny and quirky. Interestingly, the apparent moral of the story (if there is one) is summarized by Michael Douglas as a hit man, “Women are much more complicated than we think “