Love ...you have to play to win
William H. Macy
Running Time: 101 minutes
US Certificate: 15 UK Certificate: R
Country: United States
Do you believe in the concept of luck? If not, then youll have an equally tough time believing in the concept of The Cooler, which clings onto Lady Lucks coat-tails with such staunch enthusiasm that more than a few viewers will find it just too darn ridiculous to buy into.
It stars the perennially down-trodden William H. Macy as the moustachioed Bernie Lootz, a professional cooler at a Las Vegas casino. That basically means his job is to stand next to the big winners until his appalling bad luck rubs off on them and they walk away with nothing. In short, you could say Bernie is so rubbish that hes actually built a fairly impressive career out of it.
But what happens when the unthinkable occurs and the local hottie (Maria Bello) falls in love with him? The bad luck goes out the window, thats what. And that means one giant Michele McManus-sized headache for casino boss Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin) who, despite having a girls name and being a bit of a fatty, is not a man to be messed with.
When it comes to playing complete and utter schmucks, Macys up there with the best of them but Im not sure I buy him as a leading man. He lacks the presence to pull it off and, by the time Id seen him on screen for an hour-and-a-half, his twitching and whining were becoming less a quirk than an irritation. Theres also the issue of his whoppingly unconvincing romance with the far-too-good-for-him Natalie (Bello), and on top of that theres a sub-plot involving his estranged son (Shawn Hatosy) which is never satisfyingly explored.
By far the best scenes are those involving Shellys struggle against corporate modernisation. Hes an old-schooler who prefers to deal with cheats in his own way, and detests college grad up-start Larry (Ron Livingston), whos been brought onto the board to drag the place into the 21st Century. But, alas, its Bernie who is the main focus here, and the films most interesting character is marginalised as a result.
After a slow start, The Cooler peaks in the middle, but then rapidly tails off again towards the end as it comes to rely increasingly on an almost literal interpretation of luck, and all that means. Regardless of how dark and brooding it tries to be, its difficult to take it seriously when its plot revolves around an idea which, frankly, is a bit silly. It makes for a far-fetched end product, and one that despite the passable performances and nice direction I wasnt particularly impressed by.
It's Got: Sex and violence. But when its old William H. Macy having the sex and big fat Alec Baldwin inflicting the violence, it somehow loses a bit of its effect.
It Needs: Lady Luck by The Proclaimers to play over the end credits.
DVD Extras A choice of audio commentaries from either the director and composer or director and cinematographer, an Anatomy of a Scene documentary, isolated music & effects, and a look at the original theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
Believable? Entertaining? Satisfying? We should be so lucky lucky, lucky, lucky.