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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.78%
Worth A Look47.78%
Just Average: 6.67%
Pretty Crappy: 16.67%
Sucks: 1.11%

8 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Cooler, The
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by Dennis Swennumson

"A movie that will inspire any broke gambler- to go out and lose more money"
5 stars

“The Cooler” is Bernie Lootz; played by William H. Macy, a casino employee with such bad luck his job is to walk the floor, waiting to be assigned to a table with the hottest winning streak. All he has to do is grace the game with his presence, and the streak will sour so quickly it’s as if Bernie has a magical ability; the unwanted power of dragging people down into his own miserable state. This is a William H. Macy we’ve seen before, like the financially woeful car salesman in “Fargo”, the perpetual victim of infidelity in “Boogie Nights”, or fallen child star Quiz Kid Donnie Smith in “Magnolia.” Through these sad-sack characters, Macy brings out the best in our insecurities; he’s one of the most talented and likable actors around.

Through Bernie we meet the many characters populating the Shangri-La casino, including the intimidating casino director Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), a waitress who came to Vegas with dreams of stardom (Maria Bello), and a business school graduate with ideas for the new, improved Shangri-La (Ron Livingston of “Office Space”). How he got his position is another tale of irony in Bernie’s existence; he couldn’t pay some bad gambling debts, so Shelly crippled him. Knowing of his notorious losing streaks and pitying the guy, he hired him as the cooler.

When Bernie’s self esteem reaches an all-time low, Shelly hires Natalie (the waitress) to give him a good time. An unexpected love flourishes between Bernie and Natalie, Bernie gets a spring in his limp and the lack of luck evaporates, losing the casino millions in a day. Alec Baldwin has been rightfully praised for his part in the movie. Initially his portrayal of Shelly seems right out of the Scorsese brand of tough-talking Vegas mobster character mold. But under the hardheaded facade there’s a man tugging war with his only friendship and his struggling business. On a scene to scene basis Shelly can be Bernie’s best friend or the hated antagonist, Baldwin brilliantly presents both sides for argument of Shelly’s true intentions.

On some levels, “The Cooler” is about inevitable change and how we resist it. The Shangri-La is one of the last old-style casinos, turning the casino into a new hotel/casino/family entertainment complex is a prospect Shelly hates, but he knows where the money is. Bernie wants Natalie to leave town with him, but life in Vegas is all she really knows, the consequences of staying is not an issue. With his talented cast and visual adeptness, first time writer/director Wayne Kramer has perfectly blended the fantasy and reality of people cashing in on romantic happiness in a place where many go broke.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6884&reviewer=338
originally posted: 01/22/04 00:31:26
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This film is available for download or online viewing at CinemaNow.com For more in the CinemaNow.com series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

7/07/15 Jamie love this movie-alec baldwin is superb as are all the other actors 5 stars
6/11/09 mr.mike Could've done without the fairy tale aspect. 3.5 stars. 3 stars
11/03/08 CTT Kicky directorial flourish cannot save downer flick 2 stars
11/27/06 Indrid Cold There's sure a lot of these unde-the-radar Macy movies. They're usually pretty good. 4 stars
9/27/06 yumpykid An AWESOME MOVIE. Performances are fantastic. 4 stars
7/24/06 Marty loved baldwin and the plot. great view of vegas, annoying sax music stuck in head 4 stars
11/09/05 JamesCole Baldwin never better than in this FABLE of losers trying to beat the odds. 5 stars
9/17/05 lucee Boring, amazingly boring. Actually has a driving-into-the-sunset fiinish. 1 stars
8/18/05 ES good movie but the ending was far too neat and easy 3 stars
7/10/05 pin Baldwin was aces. Story was craps. 2 stars
2/11/05 axe Macy deserves a role in TILT, he makes a perfect "to-be-discontinued" character 4 stars
11/22/04 Kamal Ariffin Shah most enjoyable !! 4 stars
10/01/04 malcolm why doesn't a wonderful film like this get marketed like Alien vs Predator????????????????? 5 stars
9/07/04 Gary Dover Liked it...good piece of work by the actors...took nerve for Macy to do that love scene... 4 stars
6/13/04 Helen Bradley Baldwin very good, too long 2 stars
5/31/04 Agent Sands Sorvino's heroin scene makes me weak, but the movie overall is well done. 5 stars
5/22/04 john bale Gritty but uplifting Vagas saga with standout performances by Macy, Baldwin and Bello 5 stars
5/02/04 Phil M. Aficiando Terrific casting and acting; fun and bold; a little too hokey, but not enough to spoil it 4 stars
3/09/04 Debbie I just saw this movie last night...absolutely loved it. 5 stars
2/28/04 jimmy two times classic baldwin. basic concept told very well. Casino meets Owning Mahoney. 4 stars
2/06/04 No Oscar for Baldwin, please! Baldwin's character could've vastly improved the film by dying a lot sooner! 3 stars
1/25/04 Alec Baldwin's Love Child Alec Baldwin deserves a fucking Oscar for this. 5 stars
1/24/04 Suzz love conquers all melodrama; too violent 3 stars
1/23/04 john wonderful acting, funny, right on, touching, great little flick 5 stars
1/23/04 Jack Bourbon Good movie, but Maria Bello needs to hit the stairmaster ASAP 4 stars
1/22/04 B. L. Brueckner I little too far fetched, but excellent acting. 4 stars
1/17/04 hp tremendous acting/a bit bloody realistic 4 stars
11/28/03 Jack the Dagger awesome movie great performances nice story much better than all the other crap playing. 5 stars
11/23/03 hymie moscowitz alec baldwin for best supporting actor 2003! alec baldwin for president 2004!!! 5 stars
11/19/03 Dave Stylish, humorous, with wonderful performances. 5 stars
11/10/03 Chris Absolutely great. Bill Macy as always a joy to watch, and is what films are about. 5 stars
10/26/03 How10 A fable for adults. Well acted and produced 4 stars
10/23/03 Syrie B. low-stakes, predictable plot; "fuggetaboudit" dialogu 3 stars
10/23/03 Liz Hart Decent B movie, more nuance in the performances than in either the directing or writing 3 stars
4/08/03 Joe Madden unassuming love story 5 stars
3/28/03 Bluto McBlurt Great performances, a fantastic flick. 5 stars
3/15/03 David P. Wilson Outstanding! 5 stars
1/31/03 Alex best movie (of 12) I saw at Sundance 5 stars
1/27/03 Nolan Carr Truly amazing! They don't make 'em like this anymore. 5 stars
1/25/03 Joe Madden awesome 5 stars
1/22/03 Mr Math Baldwin is fantastic, and I usually can't stand him. 5 stars
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  26-Nov-2003 (R)
  DVD: 27-Apr-2004


  20-May-2004 (MA)

Directed by
  Wayne Kramer

Written by
  Wayne Kramer

  William H. Macy
  Maria Bello
  Alec Baldwin
  Ron Livingstone
  Paul Sorvino
  Joey Fatone

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