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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 Robert Flaxman

"What was this film really trying to do?"
2 stars

Have you ever seen a movie that absolutely could not decide what it wanted to be? Perhaps it veered between genres, perhaps it featured abrupt character shifts, perhaps its plot strands bounced around in a meaningless kind of way - things like that. Well, if you want to see what it's like when all of those things come together, see The Cooler. Otherwise, don't.

The Cooler is set in the insulated world of an old-timey Las Vegas casino, where Alec Baldwin runs things with an iron fist, and William H. Macy is called on to rub his bad luck off on casino-goers experiencing big winning streaks. If you have any hope of enjoying The Cooler - though there are plenty of other things that will ruin it for you - you have to wink at this opening premise. The plot is based around the magical idea that Macy's luck is contagious - when it's bad for him, as it has been forever, it turns bad for others. Then along comes Maria Bello and it gets good. Then bad again. Then good again. Whatever.

Really, the more interesting plot is Baldwin's attempt to keep the casino from modernizing, as he resists the suggestions of Harvard (it's always Harvard, isn't it) suit Ron Livingston. I say "more interesting" because neither this plot nor Macy's are really enough for a whole movie, and yet even combined they have a hard time filling things up.

To add some more weight, writer/director Wayne Kramer throws in another subplot, featuring Macy's estranged son Shawn Hatosy, a deadbeat who's running some see-through scams with coke-addict girlfriend Estella Warren (though at least she shows some semblance of acting ability in this movie). This is the first major sign that Kramer has no idea what he's doing, though, as the subplot in no way changes the film's trajectory, which these things are usually supposed to do.

It's around this point that everything else falls apart. Baldwin's character becomes totally bipolar. Livingston and company say one thing and then do another. Bello leaves Macy, then comes back like ten seconds later. Both of them have a big confrontation with Baldwin. About to run out of film, Kramer ties up every plot strand in the quickest possible way.

There are a couple things that can be said for The Cooler. It features pretty good acting, and it uses some camera shots that, while cheesy, are kind of fun and fit with the sort of "1960s Vegas" feel (a flying chip turns into an Alka-Seltzer which then plops into Baldwin's glass). Still, neither of these things are redeeming enough to bail the film out of the awful position it put itself into with the mediocre plot and inconsistent characterizations.

The Cooler plays like two movies in one, but neither is very good.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6884&reviewer=385
originally posted: 10/11/04 03:24:45
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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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