In this crime comedy three different men (played by Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman) recount their experiences with a mysterious woman named "Jewel" (played by Liv Tyler).
Jewel runs a scam with her boyfriend/partner in crime, an apparently non-churchgoing Mormon named "Utah." Utah and Jewel stage a fight in front of an unsuspecting man, who then comes to the rescue. Jewel then goes home with the man, lulls the mark into a false sense of security, after which she calls Utah and they rob the victim.
"Utah" is played by popular comedian Andrew Dice Clay, credited in the film as "Andrew Silverstein." Clay has the 6th-billed role in the film for his dual role as "Utah" and his Utah's twin brother. (Only the top five roles received official poster billing.)
At the start of the film, Jewel is running her scam on a bartender named "Randy" (played by Matt Dillon). Half-way through her scam, Jewel tells Randy that she feels bad about the whole thing, because she really likes him. She says that she has not yet called Utah, but he arrives at the house anyway.
During this scene, not long after hearing Jewel mention Utah's name, Randy asks her if Utah is a Latter-day Saint ("a Mormon"). She answers, "I wouldn't say that."
When Detective Charlie Dehling (John Goodman) comes to investigate the killing of Utah he is told the man's nickname. He asks, "'Utah'... The Mormon State?"
In the film's climax, the three principle male characters (Matt Dillon, Paul Reiser and John Goodman) are confronted by a man who appears to be a Latter-day Saint missionary. This is Utah's twin brother. The character is played by Andrew Dice Clay, the same actor who played the part of Utah. Early cast/character listings listed Clay's dual roles as "Utah/Mormon brother."
Dozens of reviews of this movie referred Clay's character at the end of the movie as a "Mormon," either because they read it from the cast/production notes, or simply based on the way the character looks and acts. These reviews include: Adam J. Hakari: "twin Mormon brother"; Matt Heffernan/FilmHead.com: gun-toting Mormon; Joanne Latimer/Montreal Mirror: "avenging Mormon with a shotgun"; Jason Shahinfar/The Johns Hopkins News-Letter: "Just imagine a Mormon starting a shoot out played to The Village People's YMCA."; jumptheshark.com: Utah's "mormon brother"; James Bowman/CelebrityWonder.com: "Utah's avenging Mormon brother"; Hour (www.hour.ca): "Andrew Dice Clay's cameo as twin Mormon brothers."
"One Night at McCool's" received few positive reviews; critics generally called it unfunny and disappointing. Many thought that the general idea behind the movie - seeing one woman through the eyes of three different men who fall for her - was a solid one. But the movie wasn't funny enough to be a good comedy, and it is too silly and insubstantial to be good drama. The overall execution did not live up to the potential inherent in the basic idea and the solid cast.
Below is the dialogue from the scene when Jewel admits to Randy that his taking her home was part of a scam meant to set him up to be robbed. This is the first scene in which Utah's name is mentioned. This scene and others are transcribed here exactly as they can be heard in the movie:
[Interior: Randy's house. It's a fairly spacious one-story house, certainly more than a bartender could afford in such a downtown location. When Jewel first saw it Randy explained that his mother died and left it to him.]
[Randy comes out of the bedroom. His shirt is still unbottoned. Jewel has gotten dressed, and is sitting on the couch. She is holding the telephone, staring at it sadly.]
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Don't you see? That guy tonight--
Randy (Matt Dillon): Oh... that creep in the firbird?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): I know that guy.
Randy (Matt Dillon): Oh, of course you know the guy. Let's face it, you're not the type of girl who just jumps into a car with some smelly guy that you don't even know. I know that.
Jewel (Liv Tyler): No... He and I are... doing this... thing. Oh, sh--, I really like you.
Randy (Matt Dillon): What do you mean by "thing"?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): He and I get in this fight, and then you or whoever comes to my rescue and takes me home, and then... He like shows up and we rob you.
Randy (Matt Dillon): What?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): We rob you.
[Cut to bingo parlor, where Randy (Matt Dillon) is talking to "Mr. Burmeister" (played by Michael Douglas). Randy is describing what took place with Jewel to Mr. Burmeister. The scenes with Jewel in the movie are all being told to different third party listeners from the perspective of three different men.]
Randy (Matt Dillon): I mean, do you believe that?
Mr. Burmeister (Michael Douglas): [I'm shocked] I'm shocked.
[Cut back to interior of Randy's house, where Randy is now pacing nervously in front of Jewel, trying to think of what to do now that he hears he may become a victim of a robbery scam.]
Randy (Matt Dillon): I-I take it this is something that you - you've done before?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Just a couple of times. I know it sounds sick, but you don't know Utah. He's nuts.
Randy (Matt Dillon): Hey, how does he know where we are, anyway?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): I'm supposed to call him and tell him.
Randy (Matt Dillon): You - you haven't done that yet, have you?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Of course not!
Randy (Matt Dillon): Oh, good. Good... Um... okay. I got it. Don't call him. Let's call the police instead.
Jewel (Liv Tyler): [Not if you ever want to see me again.] Not if you ever want to see me again.
Randy (Matt Dillon): [Realizing that he does not want to see Jewel get arrested, and calling the police now would mean just that.] Oh, right... Y'know, I generally think better with my shoes on, so... [Randy walks toward his bedroom as far as he can go, until the phone cord is taut. He puts the phone down on the floor. Just before entering his bedroom to retrieve his shoes, he asks:] This guy Utah, is he a Mormon?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Uh, I wouldn't say that.
Randy (Matt Dillon): Oh. I didn't think so. [Putting his shoes on in his bedroom.] You know, this guy... He sounds like a major piece of sh--, you know?
[Randy comes out of his bedroom. He is looking down at his feet, still trying to get his shoes all the way on. He walks a few feet out into the living room beforf looking up. He sees "Utah" (played by Andrew Dice Clay, credited in this film as "Andrew Silverstein"). "Utah" is dressed like a hard-core motorcycle biker. He has on leather pands, leather boots, a black shirt, an over-sized necklace, and a leather vest covered with silver studs. He is holding a gun in Randy's face. Utah's hair is long - it has grown past his shoulders. He wears a full beard and moustache scarcely longer than stubble.]
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): You wouldn't be talkin' about me, would ya, loverboy? [Addressing Jewel.] Wh- why didn't you call?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): I was just about to.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): Has this guy got anything worth takin'?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Old TV, a VCR. He's got a boom box, but only one speaker works. A Mr. Coffee machine. Telephone, um... Oh yeah, and one light hooked up to the clapper. [Jewel claps twice, causing the lamp on a stand in the living room to turn off and then on again. Utah looks at the light thoughtfully, impressed.]
Randy (Matt Dillon): Yeah, that was my mom's.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): [Addressing Randy, shaking his gun at him.] Shut up! Shut your [expletive] mouth! You stand there, you call me a piece of sh--! Huh? I'm the piece of sh--? Don't you ever call me a piece of sh--. I'm here with my lady, you understand? It is a touchy situation! [Addressing Jewel] Has he got a car?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): No.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): [Now holding the gun right to Randy's head.] No? He's pathetic! [Addressing Randy.] You- you don't got a car? Everybody's got a car today-- Even bums don't not got a car! What do you do when you take a chick out, you go on a bus? Think you're gonna get laid on a bus? Think you're gonna give some chick the [expletive] monster on a bus? Huh? I got a car. The "piece of sh--'s" got a car! [Addressing Jewel.] What about jewelry? Has he got jewelry?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Just a Swatch. Nice leather band, though.
[Randy looks at his watch.]
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): Oh yeah? [Motioning with his gun to Randy.] Take it off.
[New scene: Interior of the bar - McCool's - where Randy works as bartender. He closes up the place each night, and locks the day's earnings in the safe. Utah is still holding the gun on Randy, pushing him into the bar. Jewel walks in behind them. Obviously Utah has figured out that there is not much worth stealing from Randy's house, but that Randy's place of work may yield valuable loot.]
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): C'mon, you're so slow.
Randy (Matt Dillon): [Pointing to the safe.] It's right over here.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): Awright, you're up, slugger, let's go.
Randy (Matt Dillon): You want me to open it?
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): No, I want you to dance with it-- Move!
Randy (Matt Dillon): Okay.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): And if there's a gun in there, just leave it. 'Cause you'll pull it out, you'll get nervous, you'll wind up missin' me, then I gotta do what I gotta do with what I got. Look at me. Look at me when I talk to you!
Randy (Matt Dillon): I can't look at you and look at the safe at the same time.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): Oh, excuse me, okay. You're the big-shot now, I"m nobody, right? Okay, I'm over here now... [Looks at the watch on his wrist, touching some buttons to make it beep. Changes his tone of voice to more civil, conversational tone.] Excuse me. Got any other features on this watch?
Randy (Matt Dillon): It's got a stopwatch.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): It's got a stopwatch? [His facial expression and voice indicate that he thinks that's pretty cool. He's impressed.]
Randy (Matt Dillon): I never figured out how to use it.
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): [The watch beeps differently. Apparently he has activated the stopwatch.] It's simple. It's this button right--
[Randy is now opening the safe, looking at the lock. He is behind the counter and can not see Utah. A gunshot is heard. Utah falls face forward onto the counter. He remains slumping over. In one corner of the screen a hand holds a gun, still pointed at Utah. His watch beeps rapidly. Randy peers up from behind the counter and sees the dying body. Utah lifts his head, staring at Randy with wide eyes. He gurgles. Saliva mixed with blood drips from his lip.]
Utah (Andrew Dice Clay): Oh... [His last utterance. He falls over backward onto the floor. Randy stands up and looks down at Utah. He looks across the room and sees Jewel, still holding a gun pointed at Utah.]
Randy (Matt Dillon): What happened?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): He was gonna kill you.
Randy (Matt Dillon): Really? I mean, he was just--
Jewel (Liv Tyler): He could definitely tell that there was something going on between us, y'know?
Randy (Matt Dillon): How?
Jewel (Liv Tyler): Because I've never actually slept with any of the other guys that I've done this with before, that's how... Is he dead?
[After some more discussion Jewel and Randy decide to call the police, but Jewel somehow leads Randy to believe that it would be better if they tell the police that he shot Utah, not her.]
Later we see the events of the evening as told by Detective Charlie Dehling (played by John Goodman).
[Interior: McCool's bar. The detective is walking in on a an active crime investigation. A police photographer is taking pictures. A police officer is consulting with another detective.]
Detective Dehling (John Goodman): [Voiceover] It all started one night at McCool's...
Uniformed police officer: [Kneeling next to the dead body of Utah.] Earl Raymond Pitts. [Utah's real name.] Had a list of priors goin' back to the womb. Seriously. He was born in Dwight Correctional. His mother had twins while she was doin' a bit for narcotics.
Detective Dehling (John Goodman): You mean there's another one out there like him?
Uniformed police officer: Huh. Yeah. He went by the name "Utah."
Detective Dehling (John Goodman): "Utah"... The Mormon State?
Uniformed police officer: Yeah. Don't ask me.
The owner of the bar that Randy works at fires him, explaining that customers come to a bar to have a good time, and they won't want to come if they have to wonder if the bartender is going to shoot them.
Randy goes home, and finds Jewel ironing clothes. The domestic image prompts him to wonder if she is moving their relationship along too fast. Then a delivery arrives from a mattress store. He complains that these are things that "further down the line." She is angry, and protests: "Any further down the line than killing Utah together?"
In the film's climax, the final character to appear in the film is finally introduced: Utah's Mormon brother. As this is Utah's twin brother, the character is also played by Andrew Dice Clay. In the film's closing credits scroll, Utah's brother is named "Elmo." But in earlier versions of the cast and credits list, Andrew Dice Clay's part was credited as "Utah/Mormon brother." It is abundantly clear from this character's dress, appearance and manner of speech that he was based on Latter-day Saint missionaries.
The film's climax takes place (as does most of the film) in Randy's house. Randy (Matt Dillon), his cousin Carl (played by Paul Reiser) and Detective Dehling (John Goodman) have all fallen in love with Jewel. Detective Dehling and Carl have come to the house because they are each hoping for a second romantic tryst with her. They know she is due home within the next few minutes, because this is the time she gets off work at the department store where she works. Randy has come to prevent Burmeister from killing her. In earlier scenes he was so frustrated by the way she messed up his life (and stole his house from him) that he hired Burmeister (Michael Douglas) to kill her. But the words of a psychic on television inspire him to give their relationship another chance.
Randy, Detective Dehling and Carl are all arguing about what each of the others is doing in the house. Randy tries to explain to the other two the urgency of finding Jewel quickly.
Randy (Matt Dillon): You don't understand. Someone is coming here to kill her!
Detective Dehling (John Goodman): [Looking past Randy to the front door.] Him?
Randy (Matt Dillon): Huh? [Turns to look at the front door.] No.
[Walking through the door is what appears to be a Latter-day Saint missionary holding a large assault rifle or shotgun in one hand and a small duffle bag in the other. He is wearing dark slacks, a short-sleeved white shirt, and a dark tie with a gold tie clip. He wears glasses with heavy black rims. His hair is cut short in a missionary-style haircut. He does NOT have a name tag on, and the film in no way is implying that he actually IS an currently serving Latter-day Saint missionary. But he is intended to look like a Mormon, or at least what the writer and costume designer think Mormons look like.]
[Utah's Mormon brother walks slowly and resolutely through the door, which somehow closes behind him. He puts down his bag and walks into the middle of the room.]
Elmo/Utah's Mormon brother (Andrew Dice Clay): Which one of you... homos killed my brother?
[Elmo refers to Carl and Detective Dehling as "homos" because of the way they are dressed. Carl is wearing a leather bondage outfit, and the detective is wearing his dress police uniform (which he normally never wears). They came dressed in these outfits because they wanted to act out their fantasies with Jewel.]
Carl (Paul Reiser): I'm not gay--
Elmo/Utah's Mormon brother (Andrew Dice Clay): Shut up! I understand the man that killed my brother, Utah, he lives here. And I'm not leaving 'till I kill him. Now, which one of you was it?... I said, which one of you [Cocks the large gun he is holding for dramatic effect.] was it!?
Carl (Paul Reiser): I-I-I'm an attorney. I'm sure you and your brother were very close -- that's good. Avenging his death, wanting to avenge his death, that's admirable, who doesn't understand that? But as a lawyer...
[The camera focuses to the window, where the assassin Burmeister is holding a gun, watching these events. Suddenly a gun is pointed at his own head. Jewel has come home and found him there. She asks what he is doing with a gun at her house, and some comical dialogue follows during which she takes his gun, he points another gun at her, and they feel a romantic connection, recognize each other as kindred spirits, and start to fall in love with each other. Burmeister tells Jewel to "Look at these guys." He is implying that all three of the men she has been with recently and who have fallen in love with her are clowns, and are not the type of man she is looking for. The camera looks back into the window, and we resume listening to Carl pleading for his life with Elmo.]
Carl (Paul Reiser): Legally, you're swimming against the current on this one, legally speaking. But you've got to think about the fact that if you kill all three of us, you will be adding, and I'm just guessing here, a second and possibly third strike to your record. Which would be heading you to some very serious prison time.
Elmo/Utah's Mormon brother (Andrew Dice Clay): [Points the gun directly at Carl.] You, I'll kill just for annoying me. Now, I would appreciate if the man that killed my brother Utah would step forward and take responsibility for their actions, or [He whips out a black machine gun from behind his back with his other hand. Now he is holding two large guns.] I will have no other choice than to kill all you damn... Village People! Now, somebody better damn well start talkin'! [Each time that Elmo says the word "damn" he seems to hesitate over it and emphasize it as if he is making an effort to come up with and use the strongest language possible. Listening to Elmo's lines and the way Andrew Dice Clay delivers it seems reasonable to conclude that the writer wrote these lines thinking of the way he heard actual Latter-day Saint missionaries speak.]
[After this last line he sees out of the corner of his eye Burmeister peering in through the window. He turns and sprays machine gun fire at that window. What follows is the climax of the film. It is an action scene but is played out comically. Carl manages to jump through a window and escape unharmed. But in the film's last scene a heavy steel garbage dumpster lands on his head, smashing him like a pancake. Elmo is shot a few times by Detective Dehling, but he manages to shoot Dehling, killing him. Elmo is about to shoot Randy, but seemingly out of nowhere he is shot. We see Jewel holding the gun. After killing Elmo, she gives the uninjured Randy one last friendly look. Jewel then leaves and drives away with Burmeister to start a new life with him helping him redecorate his house.]
Clearly the characters of "Utah" and his Mormon brother "Elmo" are not intended as any kind of serious commentary about actual Latter-day Saints. Possibly the writer simply thought it was visually funny to have the same actor play two characters whose appearance is diametrically opposed, yet are twin brothers.
Are Utah and Elmo actually Latter-day Saints?
Well, clearly Utah is not a practicing Church member. Utah is a career criminal. He was born to an incarcerated woman, so we know that he and his brother were not born to an active Church member in good standing.
Is Elmo a Latter-day Saint in good standing whose grief overcomes his principles and religious beliefs, driving him to seek vengeance against the man who killed his twin brother? Or is Elmo simply somebody who dresses like a Mormon missionary (even wearing what appears to be the right undergarments)?
Within the context of the film we know that "Utah" is an alias or nickname. Utah's legal name is Earl Raymond Pitts, but nobody who knows him, including his brother and girlfriend, ever call him anything other than Utah. The reason he has this nickname is never explained.
With the intentionally Mormon-like appearance of Utah's brother, one could try to imagine explanations. Both brothers may have joined the Church at some point. They may have been born in Utah or lived there for some time.
The name "Elmo" is never actually used during the movie. Possibly this name was used in the closing the credits instead of "Utah's Mormon brother" in order to be sensitive and distance the film from being accused of religious insensitivity. As the film stands, it does indeed have enough plausible deniability to claim that none of the characters are Latter-day Saints. One could claim that it is simply a coincidence that a character whose name is Utah has a brother that looks like a missionary.
But such efforts to explain the characters probably strech beyond the thinking that went into conceiving them. This is a comedy and these are characters which, purely for comic effect it seems, are inspired by or based on Mormons.