Zero Effect (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  30 January 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 12,119 users  
Reviews: 151 user | 81 critic

The world's greatest detective Daryl Zero aided by his associate Steve Arlo investigates a complex and mysterious case of blackmail and missing keys for shady tycoon Gregory Stark who is less than forthcoming about what is really happening!



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sarah DeVincentis ...
Michele Mariana ...
Robert Katims ...
Tyrone Henry ...
Staffer #1
Aleta Barthell ...
Staffer #2
Tapp Watkins ...
Wendy Westerwelle ...
Motel Clerk
Lauren Hasson ...
Little Kid


Daryl Zero is a private investigator. Along with his assistant, Steve Arlo he solves impossible crimes and puzzles. Though a master investigator, when he is not working, Zero doesn't know what to do with himself. He has no social skills, writes bad music, and drives Arlo crazy. In his latest case, Zero must find out who is blackmailing a rich executive, and when his client won't tell him, why. The only problem with this case is Zero has done something he's never done before: got emotionally involved. Written by MartianWax

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The world's most private detective.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 January 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La méthode zéro  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$434,840 (USA) (30 January 1998)


$1,980,338 (USA) (27 February 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jake Kasdan wrote the part of Daryl Zero specifically for Bill Pullman after meeting the actor on the set of The Accidental Tourist (1988), directed by his father, Lawrence Kasdan. See more »


In the diner, the spelling of "SODA FOUNTAIN" on the window behind the actors switches from "SODA FOUNTIAN" to the correct spelling between shots. See more »


[first lines]
Steve Arlo: It's an uncompromising standard of his practice. He never meets any of his clients. He doesn't speak with them, or, for that matter, communicate in any direct fashion. That's his policy. But I am his sole representative and he is my only employer; and as such, I have full authorization to speak on his behalf on all his matters of business. I have with me a signed letter to that effect. He doesn't negotiate his fee. He works at a flat rate. Under some unusual circumstances, he'll ...
See more »


Followed by Zero Effect (2002) See more »


One Dance
Written and Performed by Dan Bern
Courtesy of The Work Group
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User Reviews

9 August 1998 | by (Wembley, London, England) – See all my reviews

I loved ZERO EFFECT and would heartily recommend the film to anyone who enjoys a great story told with great style and wit. Jake Kasdan is in his early 20's and has written and directed a wonderful film that belies his age and relative inexperience. I take my hat off to him. On this evidence he is a major talent and I can't wait to see what he does next.

When I heard about the plot of ZERO EFFECT, the story of an eccentric and reclusive, private detective and that this part would be played by Bill Pullman, I was sold on the film immediately. Bill Pullman is a wonderful actor who I admire greatly and is always a joy to watch on screen. The part of Daryl Zero is a very tricky one and very few actors could pull it off, but Bill was simply brilliant. The scene where we hear Daryl playing his guitar and singing a song but don't actually see him for about three minutes was perhaps the most wonderful introduction of a character I've seen in any film.

Ben Stiller provides sterling support as Daryl's right hand man and Ryan O'Neal (nice to see him again) and Kim Dickens are also terrific.

There are so many great lines in the film, particularly those where Daryl is explaining his methods of deduction and surveillance. His explanation of the best way to follow someone is priceless, as is his explanation on how to find things !

This film is a pure joy and very refreshing. Go see it !

25 of 27 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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