Burn After Reading is the third and final installment of the Coen Brothers’ “Idiot Trilogy” with actor George Clooney (the first two being O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Intolerable Cruelty). The film certainly lives up to that. It’s filled with idiots. Amazingly hilarious idiots.

The film takes a group of seemingly random adults living relatively boring, normal lives and spins them completely out of control. This is one of those movies where everyone starts out separate or with very minor connections and then by the end their paths are crossing over and over again and those that would normally never interact are suddenly forced together. I wish I could describe the film in more detail, but I’d seriously be here forever because things just grow and grow here. There’s a lost CD with “really secret important shit” on it that’s recovered by a complete moron of a personal trainer (Brad Pitt) and used in an attempt to blackmail an ex-CIA analyst (John Malkovich) who’s wife (Tilda Swinton) is considering divorce and cheating on him with a man from the treasury (George Clooney) who’s a womanizing charmer who’s also seeing a gym manager (Frances McDormand) who works with the moron! Phew! Still with me?

With this amazing cast coupled with the Coens’ signature wit, it’s tough to go wrong. I felt that each actor really hit their mark and they’re all pretty good on their own. When you throw two or more of them together, they really work well bouncing things off of one another. Between Pitt’s ridiculous antics, Clooney’s surprised expression, and Malkovich’s mouth that would make a sailor blush, I was cracking up in the theater.

The “out of control” part started to lose me a little bit towards the end, but managed to reel me back in. There’s a point where things just seem like they’re almost too far out there, but an appearance by J.K. Simmons brings in back home. I really wish that guy did more comedic work because he’s just great.

Burn After Reading can best be described as “quirky” like all of the other comedies by this pair of brothers. There are moments that come out you out of nowhere that will shock you and that’s typical of a Coen film too. It just works. Don’t believe everything that you read about the film. (I’m looking at you, Lisa Schwarzbaum) If you’re a fan of the other Coen comedies, you’ll enjoy this one too.

Rating: ★★★★½

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