(2003)

Critic Reviews

69

Metascore

Based on 36 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
Look for realism, and you'll find The Cooler disappointing. Look for a far-fetched yarn that's as unpredictable as a throw of the dice, though, and you'll find it engaging fun.
90
The Hollywood Reporter
A refreshing throwback to another era of moviemaking: This movie was poured from the bottle, not one of those bar regulator machines. It's got the kick, style and flavor of a straight-up story, before movies were watered down with the opinions of marketers, lawyers and committee heads.
88
Chicago Sun-Times
The acting is on the money, the writing has substance, the direction knows when to evoke film noir and when (in a trick shot involving loaded dice) to get fancy.
88
Wayne Kramer, who co-wrote the scrappy script with Frank Hannah, makes a potent directing debut and strikes gold with the cast.
88
Philadelphia Inquirer
The Cooler is small-scale moviemaking about small-scale lives. But it's big in all the right ways.
88
Chicago Tribune
The movie boasts one of those rare twist endings that strikes the right emotional chords, and it deserves credit for laying its bets on a sexy, sympathetic Macy. Sometimes long shots pay off.
88
New York Post
The best thing Baldwin has done in years, and a triumph of low-budget storytelling by a director to watch.
75
Entertainment Weekly
A lot of fun early in the evening, when the Rat Pack ambiance is novel, but gets bleary by 4 a.m. in the story.
75
Sly, sexy Las Vegas fable.
75
Grabber sub-plots further boost a story that is basically made by its three leads.
63
New York Daily News
When you realize The Cooler is not a comedy but a dark and violent love story, it's hard to reconcile its premise with its mood. The saving graces are the performances of William H. Macy as Bernie and Maria Bello.

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