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?


The blackmailer uses a computer running OpenStep (NeXT OS) to type the blackmail letter. See more »


When Zero puts down the tuna can it's at a slant, and when the camera goes back to it, it's lying flat. 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 »


Impromptu in E Flat Major
Written by Franz Schubert
Performed by Jeno Jando
Courtesy of Laserlight Digital
by arrangement with Source/Q
See more »

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User Reviews

The world's best detective is hired to find the blackmailer of a wealthy businessman.
14 April 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Excellent story and dialog. Certainly underrated. The film has great performances by Bill Pullman and Kim Dickens, as well as Ben Stiller. This one seems to have gone unnoticed by most people, but it was clever and entertaining. The plot moves and has plenty of twists, but the plot twists are not what makes the film great. The characters and their development are what make this movie unique. Daryl Zero is one of the most memorable private detectives I have ever seen and his relationship with Gloria Sullivan (Kim Dickens) is well developed. Daryl's sidekick, Ben Stiller, is interesting too as his loyalties are tested throughout the film. At first it is difficult to determine how astute Daryl is--is he really the "most observant" person in the world? Or is he a bumbling fake? As the story develops, you see how adept Daryl Zero is. Even the soundtrack is good with a great song by Nick Cave.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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