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The Cooler (2003)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 January 2004 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 27,971 users   Metascore: 69/100
Reviews: 213 user | 157 critic | 36 from Metacritic.com

In an old school Las Vegas casino, its top gambling jinx breaks his curse when he falls in love, much to his boss' consternation.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 12 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Mikey
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Buddy Stafford
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Charlene
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Johnny Cappella
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Highway Officer (as MC Gainey)
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Lou
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Tony
Richard Israel ...
Marty Goldfarb
Timothy Landfield ...
The Player
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Storyline

The unluckiest man in Vegas - a guy whose bad luck is contagious - is used by the last of the old time mob run casinos to kill high rollers' action. That is, until he falls in love with a cocktail waitress and gets "lady luck," which throws the situation into reverse. Things turn nasty when the casino director tries to break up the romance. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Love ...you have to play to win See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, violence, language and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 January 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Golpe de suerte  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$128,973 (USA) (28 November 2003)

Gross:

£438,172 (UK) (2 July 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the director's commentary, William H. Macy was given three suits to wear during the film. During scenes where his character Bernie was hapless and unlucky, he wore a suit that was two sizes too big for him. During scenes where his luck was starting to turn around, he wore a suit that was one size too big for him. After he falls in love and is extremely lucky, he wears a perfectly tailored suit. Also, as Bernie's luck improves, the lighting surrounding him gets brighter, and his shirt and tie go from dark and subdued to bright and colorful. See more »

Goofs

Natalie's hair changes several times between shots when telling Bernie about her 'Little Joe.' See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Casino employee: Where's Bernie, they're killing us. Yeah, we need him right away.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Maria Bello's face is reflected on the side of the "Lady Luck" hotel. See more »

Connections

References Marnie (1964) See more »

Soundtracks

Can I Steal a Little Love
(1953)
Written by Phil Tuminello
Arranged by Kevin Antunes
Performed by Joey Fatone
See more »

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User Reviews

A good little low-key film whose weaknesses in the writing are covered up by great delivery from all involved
19 July 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Bernie Lootz is a 'cooler' – a man whose very presence on a casino floor turns peoples' luck to cr*p and stops any winning streak dead in its tracks.

As such he is a very valuable asset to casino boss Shelly Kaplow, himself having enough problems of his own trying to stop his old school casino being revamped to the point of losing it's sense of class. However, with Bernie looking to leave, Shelly is eager to make him stay – not helped by waitress Natalie falling in love with Bernie and turning his jinx into universal good fortune. With the casino dropping a million plus in one day, Shelly takes action to protect what is his.

As with many viewers I suspect, I was attracted to this film by the cast and the fact that it received a few nods from the Oscars (despite being showy enough to win). The plot is based on the old casino idea of coolers being those who bring bad luck to the tables but it very much needs you to buy into the idea of luck to really enjoy this fable of lady luck – unless you get into it, it'll feel rather forced and silly at times. However the film helped me to overcome this by being very lowkey and downbeat – very much like Bernie himself the film is dog eared and lovable, not a great thing but one that is easy to get into. The film uses Las Vegas really well and it is the Las Vegas I believe in – downbeat, cruel and plastic, it is much better than the fun, breezy and slick Vegas that we are sold in CSI or in Oceans 11. The mix of romance, comedy and violence works very well – at points it was very touching, at others quite funny and then others unrelentingly brutal and downbeat. It isn't perfect of course and the writing is where the problems lie; the story did rely on the audience buying into it and at times the dialogue comes very close to corn (but just misses). The only time I felt really let down by it was the ending, which, although fitting with the spirit of the film, missed a great chance to be dark, depressing and beautiful all at the same time.

Despite the odd weakness in the material, these are almost totally covered by a superb collection of performances. Macy may be aware of typecasting but so what if he keeps getting roles like this, probably one of his best performances since Fargo. He is typically the little man who we cannot help but root for and Macy does well never to let Bernie become pathetic to the point that he loses the audience. Bello also does pretty well and even convincingly falls for Bernie even though the film offers her very little opportunity to show a real development of love there. She is pretty but not to the point where she is an unconvincing waitress and her dashed hopes are well worn by her. However the one performance that dominated the film was Baldwin who does very well in delivering a role that could easily have become caricature. At turns he is amusing, brutal, friendly and tragic and Baldwin does almost all of these with minor touches – at one point I was impressed by how well he controlled his face (eyes in particular) to convince me that here was a man who was totally lost. A great performance and one that definitely deserved his Oscar nod. Support is just as good from several well known faces; Sorvino is given little more than a cameo but the one scene he shares with Baldwin is fantastic and, unlike some of his other roles, I never saw Paulie once – his Buddy was too tragic for that ghost to linger here. Hatosy is OK even if his part of the story is not as good as the others and Nascarella will be a well known face to many due to many roles in films for Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese and a few other big films.

Overall this is not a perfect film and it needs you to really buy into its fantasy world to really enjoy it but it works well and turned out to be an enjoyable, low key and atmospheric little love story that was never brilliant at any one thing but managed to be touching, brutal, funny and, ultimately, quite satisfying even if my darker side wanted an ending with more punch.


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