Zero Effect (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Crime, Drama  |  30 January 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 12,120 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 »


The sweat stains on Zero's shirt disappear suddenly while he talks to Arlo. 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 »


Emma J
Written and Performed by Brendan Benson
Courtesy of Virgin Records America, Inc.
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User Reviews

Who is this Guy Anyway?
23 November 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The cast in this movie is well thought out!! Bill Pullman plays Detective Daryl Zero, and he is a consortium of unorthodox emotions!! Your initial perception of him being one whereby he is an amphetamine freak, who chants like a castrated country rock singer, and drinks 68 cans of Tab in a single day!! Concocting irrational conclusions for everything is Daryl Zero's favorite hobby, and, all of his ersatz proclivities, which unalterably require a necessary detachment, are peculiar enough to put him in either Belvue or Believe it or Not!! He can astutely characterize a white collar criminal, and speak six different languages, yet, he is incapable of filling out a tax form!! With regard to something or someone being hazardous, Daryl Zero should come with a personalized warning label which reads: Compared to this guy, arsenic seems like an innocuous and palatable beverage!!

The movie starts off with Gregory Stark, (Ryan O'Neal) who is the anonymously wealthy guy. Stark has now become the aggrieved recipient of blackmail!! Steve Arlo, (Ben Stiller) plays Detective Zero's business manager, Steve (Ben Stiller) manufactures a mystique about Detective Zero through a bastardized affidavit containing a bevy of counter culture mannerisms!! Arlo (Ben Stiller) presents a cogent case to Gregory Stark (Ryan O'Neal) that Daryl Zero's doggerel of accomplishments consists of numerous radical approaches and techniques which serve as a means of being the most effective method to "cracking the case"!! Desperate and annoyed by pecuniary depletion from a petty (yet stinging) series of blackmail tactics,Gregory Stark (Ryan O'Neal) is ready to give way to the unconventional!!! Consummation of this deal opens up the floodgates for an onslaught of nuances to surface which everyone in the movie becomes besieged with.. Daryl Zero's prescience is profound in his ability at pinpointing the perpetrator to this blackmail crime!! This film provides a precarious pontification to many different ideological premises for all parties concerned!! More importantly, it should be established that the trivial details and innate intricacies of everyone's sordid human nature, are far more significant to the plot of this movie, than the overall complications which pertain to this film's resonating end results!! The two OB's; observation and objectivity, guide Detective Zero in the direction of satiating his desires to resolve everything... This acute homogenization of deductive logic is what is referred to in this film as the "Zero Effect"!!

This movie is loaded with talent, the writing is particularly well thought out, and the innovative genre to this film makes it intellectually gratifying to watch!!! All is well, but ends well, however, it is not manifested in the proverbially neon accented format that people are accustomed to when viewing a film with a happy ending.. Everyone's aggravated afflictions are related to their environment, and, Detective Zero's concluding jeremiad, which establishes a mandatory closure on the whole blackmail issue, winds up getting categorized accordingly!! That being said, let's put it behind us, it's over, so why not just go sky diving, or attend someone's funeral or something!! Extremely well made film. It is Crazy with a capital "C". I am very glad that I saw it!!!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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