What do you do when one of your favorite filmmakers makes a mediocre movie? Sorry to say, “Burn after Reading” is not going to be on any “Best of” Coen Brothers movie lists. The story about a disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ending up in the hands of two bumbling gym employees who attempt to sell it seems like it should be both more engaging and funnier than it actually is. I’m sure it sounded good on paper. Since the Coen Brothers do not tolerate bad performances in their movies, all of the acting is great. Brad Pitt reminds people that he can act and that he does have a sense of humor. He gets some credit for allowing the Coen Brothers to give him the goofiest hairdo he’s had since “Cool World”. Even when the Coen Brothers make a mediocre movie, it’s still not too horrible. There are some great scenes and some great Coen Brothers moments. George Clooney’s mugging to the camera, scenes with incompetent CIA managers and John Malkovich being John Malkovich are almost worth the price of admission alone. The most annoying character is Frances McDormand’s gym employee obsessed with plastic surgery. And unfortunately she gets the most screen time. The problem with this film is a combination of scripting, tone and focus. Which is very odd considering the Coen Brothers are masters of scripting, tone and focus. There are too many characters and the story jumps around too much, often for no apparent reason. The characters are interesting but we don’t see any of them on screen for very long so they never get a chance to develop. Just as we want to see more of a character they are gone and you’re not even sure if they’re coming back. Ultimately the whole is much less than the sum of its parts, which is disappointing. But when you look at the Cohen Brothers ovre, and even just the comedies like “Raising Arizona” and “O, Brother Where Art Thou”, they can surely be forgiven for a misstep or two along the way.