The Cooler

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:41 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Cooler
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: William H. Macy, Maria Bello, Alec Baldwin, Shawn Hatosy, Ron Livingston
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Lions Gate Films
Release Date: 2003
Kiddie Movie: Definitely not.
Date Movie: It’s good for the both of you.
Gratuitous Sex: Lots of it. Yea! But a little too real. Boo! Personally, I didn’t need to see William H. Macy’s butt, but hey, like I said, it was too real.
Gratuitous Violence: There are some quality beatings.
Action: No real chase scenes.
Laughs: Quite a few.
Memorable Scene: I would have to say the Shelly/Mikey sit down in the back room. Especially when Shelly punches Mikey’s girlfriend in the pregnant belly.
Memorable Quote: Lots of them, but Shelly questioning Bernie, as they looked at a hooker walking away, asking “I’d bet you’d like to birdie that hole?” gives you a good sense of the film.
Directed By: Wayne Kramer

Now I know why I always lose money in Vegas. I think all of my friends are coolers. Yea, that’s got to be it, because when I’m gambling by myself it always seems I’m ahead, but if one of them is around, or comes by me to say “Hi”, my luck changes in an instant. Yea, that’s got to be the reason. That or the fact that maybe I’m just a cooler. Or maybe it’s just that the house always has the edge. Oh well, in any case there’s a movie out called “The Cooler” and it’s fantastic.

“The Cooler” gives us the story of Bernie Lootz played brilliantly by William H. Macy (and might I make a little aside saying that Macy is one lucky guy – not only is he blessed with being a talented actor, he also gets to feel up Maria Bello in the movie). He is a sad-sack, and also, what is known in the casino world, as a cooler. Pretty much if you are on a hot streak at the casino, if a cooler comes around you, sits next to you for a hand, maybe throws some dice, your luck changes in an instant. You would think that anyone with that talent would be well worth any amount of money to a casino owner, but sadly for Bernie, he is in the debt of owner Shelly (Alec Baldwin) so he’s pretty much working for nothing. It’s his last week working for Shelly, his debt finally paid, and Bernie’s looking to get the hell out of town because rather than be happy with his talent, it drives him crazy, especially because he’s unlucky, too.

Then one day he tries to make waitress Natalie’s (Bello) life a little better, and oddly enough they get together. Bernie’s not that smooth with the ladies, so Natalie helps him along, reassuring him that she’s had worse, and slowly they both fall in love. This is not good for Shelly because a Bernie in love brings lady luck to his side, and suddenly his cooler powers turn to, well, warmer powers, because now everyone starts winning in his presence. This is doubly bad for Shelly because financial backer Nicky (Arthur Nascarella) and his consultant Larry (Ron Livingston) are looking to transform the Shangri-La into a flashy casino for the Vegas strip. Shelly, on the other hand, prefers old-school casinos, where you could break someone’s kneecaps if they try to cheat.

But Bernie’s good fortune takes a bad turn when he runs into his estranged son Mikey (Shawn Hatosy) and his pregnant girlfriend. Bernie gives him some dough to help with the coming grandchild, then finds Mikey in trouble with Shelly. Being the good dad, Bernie agrees to take Mikey’s debt, meaning he’s going to be working for Shelly a while longer. Shelly also takes the lead by subtly suggesting that, for her own sake if you get what I mean, Natalie should get out of Bernie’s life.

Does Bernie end up with Natalie? Can Shelly convince Nicky and Larry to leave the casino alone? Will ‘N Sync ever record another album now that Joey Fatone is becoming a gigantic movie star (he plays a lounge singer in “The Cooler”)? Well, the first two questions are answered, the last, well, only time will tell.

“The Cooler” just has fabulous acting by everyone involved, and couple that with a great dramatic story and you get a fantastic movie. Alec Baldwin played a slimy character in “The Cat in the Hat” and I thought he sucked. In “The Cooler” as Shelly, Alec makes up for that mistake one hundred fold. You loathe him for some of his actions, yet inside the man there is a twisted sense of caring for his friends, namely his dealing with aging crooner, Buddy, played by Paul Sorvino. Macy continues to be one of the most solid actors out there, and Maria Bello is fabulous in her portrayal as Natalie, a giant acting leap from the last movie I saw her in, as Liz, the owner of Coyote Ugly (although I did like her in that movie also, this one really lets her talents shine). This is truly an adult movie, with some sex scenes between Bernie and Natalie that present sex in a real light, and some quality violence that really shows how things probably were in the casino industry. It’s 5 stars out of 5 for “The Cooler.”

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!