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The Cooler

175 customer reviews

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(Apr 27, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

The premise of this swinging Vegas picture is enough to carry it over its narrative rough spots. The unluckiest sap on the planet (William H. Macy) is employed as a "cooler" at a casino; his very presence can chill the hot streak of any patron on a roll. He's valued by the old-school manager of the place, a role given a two-fisted, bourbon-swilling incarnation by Alec Baldwin. Macy means to quit, but then he falls for a waitress (the excellent Maria Bello, from "Permanent Midnight")--might his luck be changing? The subplots are pretty much a mess, but the frank sex scenes between Macy and Bello give the movie a truly offbeat feel. The tawdry air of a second-rate casino is also nicely done: This is not the new family-friendly Las Vegas, but a tough place of superstitions, sinister back rooms, and shabby motels. The characters are perfectly at home. "--Robert Horton"

Special Features

  • Sundance Channel's "Anatomy of a Scene"
  • Storyboard comparisons
  • Music-only track in 5.1 Dolby

Product Details

  • Actors: William H. Macy, Maria Bello, Alec Baldwin, Shawn Hatosy, Ron Livingston
  • Directors: Wayne Kramer
  • Writers: Wayne Kramer, Frank Hannah
  • Producers: Alessandro Camon, Andrew Busey, Brett Morrison, Bryan Furst, Chris Miller
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EFV7C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,193 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cooler" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A. Ryan on June 13, 2004
Format: DVD
Imagine the most defeated, downtrodden, broken individual on the planet. Somebody who life has ridden roughshod over him so many times that the only thing he's living for is an end to his obligations. If you believe that luck can spread around, then a guy like that would have to sap it from everything and everybody he came into contact with, returning it sour and stale. The only way a loser like that could make a real living would be as a cooler in a casino. Folks, meet Bernie Lootz, the best cooler in Las Vegas.
Bernie has a seven year deal with his old-style thug boss Shelley, played by the aptly cast Alec Baldwin. In order to work off a gambling debt caused by his addiction combined with a losing streak, Bernie "cools" the luck of winners at the Shangri-La casino simply by circulating around to wherever there has been too much of a winning streak going on. It works, and he keeps the outdated Shangri La nicely profitable. But now his obligation to Shelley is nearly finished and Bernie wants out of the business. No smart old stickler like Shelley is going to let such a good thing go so easily, however, and he contrives a cruel and clever plan to trap Bernie into extending his contract using the only bait that could tempt a guy with nothing else to lose: a sexy new love interest in the form of cocktail waitress Natalie (Maria Bello).
Once in a while a role comes along for which there is really only one actor that can jump start it to life properly, and without a doubt William H. Macy is that actor for Bernie Lootz. With his kicked-puppy looks and his quietly resigned demeanor, Macy is superb in this movie. In fact, he really made the movie, period.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 3, 2004
Format: DVD
I tend to like films about Las Vegas. I also like mobster movies. Well, this 2003 film has it all. But most of all it has an unforgettable character, played by William H. Macy.

William H. Macy is actually 53 years old but looks a lot older. There are lines on his face that give him character and I certainly hope he never joins the Botox crowd. In this film he's cast as a Las Vegas loser, a poor soul with such bad luck that Alec Baldwin, the Casino boss keeps him around just to bring bad luck to people on a winning streak. This is of course ridiculous, but somehow this film made me feel that it was real.

It's also ridiculous how much William H. Macy admires the casino boss and considers him a friend. His kneecap had been broken years before by this same casino boss who then paid to have surgery for him and gave him a job. But after years of being a loser, Macy now wants out.

This same casino boss pays a cocktail waitress to have an affair with Macy so that he will stay with the casino. As you can guess - they fall in love. And, even though he's much older than her and she's a babe, they have some sizzling romantic scenes that not only seem authentic, but also burn up the screen. Naturally, Macy's luck begins to turn and the casino suffers.

The plot thickens as Macy's long lost son returns with a pregnant wife, two despicable characters that are out to take Macy for all he's worth. Then there's a violent scene with Baldwin, which gave me the chills. The film was fascinating and I couldn't stop watching.

No, it doesn't seem plausible. And Alec Baldwin's performance left a lot to be desired. The story was unrealistic and at times, silly. But what can I say? I loved it!
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48 of 59 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2004
Format: DVD
The Cooler is a very interesting movie in that it goes back to the basic style the old Las Vegas movies used to be in the past. It's been awhile since we've seen a "casino" movie and The Cooler makes a valid attempt.
William H. Macy plays Bernie Lootz, a man of incredible bad luck. He works at the Shangri-La Casino where he is trying to pay off a horrible debt he owes after his bad luck of gambling. He basically walks around the tables that are hot and "cools" them down by spreading his bad luck to any gambler. Alec Baldwin plays Shelly Kaplow, Bernie's stern boss who at times uses violence to remind people the luck always needs to be on his side. Maria Bellow plays Bernie's girlfriend Natalie. Most of the movie is Bernie counting his last few days there at the casino as he is ready to leave and move on with his life.
Terriferic performances by William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin. Mr. Macy nails the character of Bernie so deeply and true that you can't help wonder if Mr. Macy has experienced a time of bad luck himself. Mr. Macy does such a good job in his role, that all it takes is for the viewer to look in his eyes and you can easily see a man who is tired, depressed, and has accepted the realization that his life is slowly going downhill and there is nothing he can do to stop it. Mr. Baldwin is genius as the angry boss who get's what he wants. His anger and fierceness is so real and perfect that you can feel his creepy presence everytime he is about to walk on screen. The only one I believe who had a good performance but not an outstanding one was Ms. Bellow. She was almost convincing as Bernie's girlfriend. She is a very talented actress and is definitely goregous which is necessary for her character, but her acting performance just doesn't stand out compared to the others.
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