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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.78%
Worth A Look47.78%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 16.67%
Total Crap: 1.11%

8 reviews, 42 user ratings

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Cooler, The
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by Mark Rodger-Snelson

"One of the surprise packages of the year."
4 stars

The Cooler directed by Wayne Kramer is a solid feature length debut that explores the seedy underbelly of Vegas. Sure, other films have been there before and have been great movies (Hard Eight, Casino) but The Cooler has a slightly different twist on the genre with its focus mainly being on the romance of a rather unlikely couple.

Bernie Lootz (William H Macy) is the world’s unluckiest guy. His luck is so rotten that it is actually infectious, a trait that has landed him a depressing job in a smoky old-school casino that involves sharing tables with high rollers in order to turn their winning streak sour. His job is not so much to make a living but mainly to pay off an enormous debt to the casino’s violent mafia linked boss Shelly (Alec Baldwin). Things are going smoothly until Bernie meets the attractive yet hardened waitress Natalie (Maria Bello) and, despite their differences, they fall hopelessly in love with each other. Shelly does not approve of Bernie’s new found happiness as it seems to have a detrimental effect on his fortune turning gift and he is definitely not a man you would want to upset. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the mob who own the casino are on Shelly’s back to make more money by converting it into an dazzling attraction like the rest of The Strip. Shelly despises what the majority of Vegas has become and will do anything to cling onto the past through his casino.

The performances in The Cooler are outstanding. William H Macy proves once again that he is the king of playing a lovable loser who is in way over his head. Alec Baldwin is intense and genuinely frightening as the desperate Shelly. Maria Bello also shines in her role as a determined woman trying to overcome one too many broken dreams. Kramer delivers a stylish film that mixes inventive visual flair with nods to noir films of the past. This is all complemented by a saxophone driven soundtrack that suits the smoke filled casino and sleazy motel scenes perfectly.

The Cooler may not have the impact of Casino or the complexity of Hard Eight but it still ranks highly as far as Vegas flicks are concerned.

Despite its dark mood and occasional strong violence The Cooler is essentially a romance and on that level it's definitely one of the surprise packages of the year.

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originally posted: 11/01/04 20:41:59
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This film is available for download or online viewing at For more in the 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
11/04/08 CTT Kicky directorial flourish cannot save downer flick 2 stars
11/28/06 Indrid Cold There's sure a lot of these unde-the-radar Macy movies. They're usually pretty good. 4 stars
9/28/06 yumpykid An AWESOME MOVIE. Performances are fantastic. 4 stars
7/25/06 Marty loved baldwin and the plot. great view of vegas, annoying sax music stuck in head 4 stars
11/10/05 JamesCole Baldwin never better than in this FABLE of losers trying to beat the odds. 5 stars
9/18/05 lucee Boring, amazingly boring. Actually has a driving-into-the-sunset fiinish. 1 stars
8/19/05 ES good movie but the ending was far too neat and easy 3 stars
7/11/05 pin Baldwin was aces. Story was craps. 2 stars
2/12/05 axe Macy deserves a role in TILT, he makes a perfect "to-be-discontinued" character 4 stars
11/23/04 Kamal Ariffin Shah most enjoyable !! 4 stars
10/02/04 malcolm why doesn't a wonderful film like this get marketed like Alien vs Predator????????????????? 5 stars
9/08/04 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
6/01/04 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
3/10/04 Debbie I just saw this movie last night...absolutely loved it. 5 stars
2/29/04 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
1/25/04 Suzz love conquers all melodrama; too violent 3 stars
1/24/04 john wonderful acting, funny, right on, touching, great little flick 5 stars
1/24/04 Jack Bourbon Good movie, but Maria Bello needs to hit the stairmaster ASAP 4 stars
1/23/04 B. L. Brueckner I little too far fetched, but excellent acting. 4 stars
1/18/04 hp tremendous acting/a bit bloody realistic 4 stars
11/29/03 Jack the Dagger awesome movie great performances nice story much better than all the other crap playing. 5 stars
11/24/03 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
11/11/03 Chris Absolutely great. Bill Macy as always a joy to watch, and is what films are about. 5 stars
10/27/03 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
4/09/03 Joe Madden unassuming love story 5 stars
3/29/03 Bluto McBlurt Great performances, a fantastic flick. 5 stars
3/16/03 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
1/26/03 Joe Madden awesome 5 stars
1/23/03 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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