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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 Jay Seaver

"The whole idea's pretty silly, isn't it?"
2 stars

There is a great deal of appeal to a writer in the idea that luck is a function of some universal force as opposed to what it really is - chance.

In his "Ringworld" novels, science-fiction author Larry Niven posited the character of Teela Brown, who was born and bred to be lucky. Her ancestors had won the right to conceive in a lottery going back three generations, and she'd never been less than fortunate, never having so much as stubbed her toe. Like Gladstone Gander in Walt Disney's Duck comics, she was lucky as a condition of her being. Niven claimed that she had the ultimate psi power - author control.

Once you allow luck to be something quantifiable, and indeed predictable in a definite, as opposed to probability-based, way, you can cease worrying about whether or not people will believe in how your characters are affected by outside actions. Their luck becomes a part of their environment.

It's tricky, though. Intacto, for instance, built a framework of rules and methods by which this "luck" worked, but never put the idea to terribly interesting use. The Cooler, on the other hand, asks the audience to take its title character's bad luck as a given, but never makes this fantasy element really fit into its gritty millieu.

William H. Macy's Bernie Lootz is unlucky, and he plays his role in Vegas by making those around him unlucky, in the service of his casino-boss "friend" Shelly (Alec Baldwin). When a pretty waitress (Maria Bello) takes an interest in him, his luck changes with his attitude, and Shelly attempts to return things to normal via extreme measures.

But the whole idea's pretty silly, isn't it? The movie presents Bernie's bad luck as a key to keeping the casino in business, but the idea that casinos actually depend on luck is childish. Casinos operate and thrive because they understand probability better than their customers. Shelly himself is a silly caricature, a superstitious thug who romanticizes thuggery. His downfall is not only inevitable, but given the time-frame of the movie, long overdue.

Now, Baldwin, Bello, and Macy all give decent performances - there's not really a bad bit of character acting to be found; even Ron Livingston's astounding un-charisma is well-utilized (and Estella Warren apparently can act as opposed to just looking good).

But they're all in service of such silly ideas as to make The Cooler a well-acted goofy movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6884&reviewer=371
originally posted: 06/03/04 19:10:39
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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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