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The world's best detective is hired to find the blackmailer of a wealthy businessman.
brooksphillip114 April 2006
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.
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I loved ZERO EFFECT and would heartily recommend t...
Vince-69 August 1998
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 !
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Terrific movie
Tito-821 April 2000
This was a really pleasant surprise. I didn't know what to expect before watching this film, but what I got was a great movie that featured some really good performances. Stiller and O'Neal are solid, but the always-likeable Bill Pullman is the real standout here. There are lots of great moments in this film, many of them comedic, and except for an occasionally slow pace during the second half, I was greatly entertained throughout. Definitely worth checking out this movie.
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Very cool...
the amorphousmachine20 September 2000
Bill Pullman is a very underrated actor, and this film he totally steals the show as the reclusive, quirky but 'greatest detective in the world', Daryl Zero. He certainly suited the part in Zero Effect!

Ben Stiller, Ryan O'Neal and Kim Dickens all provide great support in this different but interesting comedy. It had a very good story, some interesting social commentary and observation. Not quite a thriller but for its acute observation, realistic characters and storyline, Ill give this a ***1/2 out of *****!!!
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A great movie, but credit is due to Doyle.
fossergrim-113 April 2005
OK, I thought this was an excellent movie. Having said that, where is the credit to Arthur Conan Doyle? When movies are based on the works of Shakespeare, such as modern day versions of Hamlet and Macbeth they always credit Shakespeares works.

Compare Zero Effect to A Scandal in Bohemia.

Compare the character Zero to Holmes: 1. both use drugs 2. both play a musical instrument 3. both apply astounding powers of observation to solve cases 4. both use disguises 5. both are loners who rely on their intermediaries (Watson/Arlo)

In Zero Effect, Arlo deals with conflicts between his romantic life and Zero's need of him to function. In A Scandal In Bohemia, Watson has recently married and Holmes and Waston must deal with the issue.

The first line of A Scandal In Bohemia reads: "To Sherlock Holmes she is always THE woman."

Guess what, in the end Sherlock doesn't get the girl and he admires her as his most capable adversary. I guess Doyle must have a copy of Zero Effect stashed away somewhere.

Again, I will say I thought is was a fantastic movie. I'm not always a big fan of Pullman, but he was excellent in the role. If you are considering not watching this movie because you don't like Ben Stiller, well don't let that stop you. He takes his normal persona down a couple notches. Don't expect to see any traces of Zoolander or Meet the Parents.
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One of the best "detective comedies" ever.
TxMike22 March 2000
As soon as the "Zero Effect" finished, my wife and I turned to each other and said, "that's one of the best movies we've seen." Bill Pullman shows why he is one of the best, if often overlooked, actors. He plays the very private detective Daryl Zero who is uncannily insightful on the job, but otherwise is a mess. We laughed so hard at times that we had tears in our eyes. And it isn't just funny - there is a very well-woven story involving murder and blackmail.

For its cleerness, acting, story, and directing, I give it a solid "9" of "10", and one of my all-time favorites.
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Surprisingly Emotionally Effective. 9/10
zetes22 February 2001
A lot can be said about the superb writing that this film contains. It is also very well acted. But one thing that has always shocked me is just how emotionally involving it is. Darryl Zero's budding relationship with the woman, Kim Dickens, is so well written and acted that I believed every moment of it. Kim Dickens' character goes through some very difficult situations, and they all work. Ben Stiller's problems ring true, also. And I'd like to point out that his girlfriend is the woman Bruce Campbell has to defend in S-Mart at the end of Army of Darkness.

There are only a couple of criticisms I have of the film. The first ten or fifteen minutes seem to contain an entirely different style of comedy than the rest of the film. With Darryl Zero's horrendous guitar stylings and fridge full of TAB and tuna, I expected it to be an off-the-wall comedy or spoof of a detective film or something. The first time I saw the film, I was told how funny it was, and after I saw the ridiculous first ten minutes or so, I was constantly expecting the film to use slapstick and other such jokes. The film is funny, but if you go in expecting a comedy, or only a comedy, anyways, you're going to miss the emotional cues. Also, some of the discoveries and some of the trivia that Darryl Zero exhibits is a bit ridiculous. I mean, Sherlock Holmes, who was actually based on a real person, a college professor at Oxford, I believe, had amazing powers of deduction, but not even he could guess which bus Kim Dickens was going to tell her victim to get on. And I would also think that someone who does have the abilities that Darryl Zero supposedly has would never make up a job and tell that to one person, and forget that job and make a new one to give to someone else who frequents the same place as the first one!
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Not to be overlooked
Sean Gallagher2 February 1999
I didn't see this in theaters because most critics up here were dismissive of it, so I checked it out when it hit video and what I wanted wasn't available. I should have ignored the critics. Even if, like me, you're not well versed in Sherlock Holmes (which this film is inspired by), you should enjoy this movie. Bill Pullman is wonderful as Daryl Zero, who lives his professional life by the two "obs; observation and objectivity." He's quirky without being overly eccentric, and he's very believable and touching. Ben Stiller is a nice foil as his front man. Kim Dickens proves after PALOOKAVILLE and this that she's a talent to watch. I even liked Ryan O'Neal, whom I'm not a fan of. I'm definitely looking forward to Jake Kasdan's next film; he looks like he may be as talented as his father.
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Who is this Guy Anyway?
dataconflossmoor23 November 2007
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!!!
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Not crazy about Stiller or Pullman, but both were great in this movie.
John Cook22 October 2005
The movie rides on this goofy charm from start to finish. In the past, I'd always been mildly turned off by Pullman. But he converted me here with a pitch perfect portrayal of such a strange character.

One thing I dig about this movie is that even though it follows the standard plot requirements of a detective mystery, everything comes across fresh. I was continually, completely fooled into believing these characters were not constrained by the requirements of the plot. I'm a sucker for mysteries, and used to settling into that mystery movie groove. I don't think it's a bad thing. But every now and then, one comes along that makes you forget there's a groove at all. And this is one of those.

On top of Pullman's 1st class perf. (I'm cracking a smile just thinking about it), Ryan O'Neal and Ben Stiller play to their strengths to great effect. I've never been huge fans of them, either. One of the reasons I chose to review this movie is that it took three actors I've never been incredibly fond of, and I loved it in spite of it. Loved them in spite of it.

Not to mention Kim Dickens, who is a revelation (she's gone onto a few other movies and a meaty role on the HBO series Deadwood). She's just excellent here. You can never figure out what's going on in her head.

If you love this movie, rent "Freaks and Geeks". The director, Jake Kasdan, directed several episodes of this classic, short-lived series.
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A good idea...
SimianLogic26 January 2005
This movie seemed to fall flat in many places. It opened slow and never really picked up a lot of steam. That being said, the story is engaging and very well-written. The dialogue, though...I thought the dialogue was a little poor. Jake Kasdan might be better served finding a screen writing partner to jazz up the dialogue. Maybe I'm a little spoiled by Monk (which I realize came later), but I didn't find the main character all that endearing. Mostly his traits were just annoying and not fully conceived--for instance the weird scene with him playing the guitar...which never comes up again. Why add in that particular moment unless it's going to play a part later on? The camera-work was excellent, with lots of long steady-cam shots. One place where I thought the film shone was in its use of music. I usually don't even notice the soundtrack, but on this one it really stood out as being well-selected. Ben Stiller usually bugs the crap out of me, but his performance was restrained and I actually liked him a lot more than Bill Pullman's detective character.

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The best movie that nobody saw in 1998.
Coop-821 February 1999
Here's the thing about "Zero Effect," you have to see it more than once. It's one of those movies that just gets better every single time you see it. I was upset that this movie didn't see the sort of theatrical success that it really deserved, but I have a feeling that it may very well become a cult classic. Bill Pullman (who I normally can't stand) really threw me for a loop as Daryl Zero. I really can't recommend this film enough.
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Phony, Fake, Cliche, Immature
Pangborne4 March 2004
Don't believe the people who say this is a great film. It was made by the 23 year old son of a famous movie director, and it has all the weaknesses that implies. There is not an ounce of reality or originality, which leaves a bunch of genre cliches floating around like a slow-motion Cuisinart. The acting is what happens when talented actors are left to their own devices without a strong guiding hand - show-offy, undisciplined, incoherent, charming, sexy (how actors want to be seen), scenery-chewing, and "quirky." The writing is the same - surface polish that comes off in your hand if you watch till the end. The plot seems intriguing at the beginning, but peters off into a disappointing end - sort of on a level with a seventies TV detective show. The cool ideas never go anywhere, and the "quirky" characters never pay off. The appeal for most people, I think, seems to be the cleverness of the great detective's mystery-solving, but it is the same cheap, unbelievable tricks pulled by Sherlock Holmes and his immitators for the past hundred years: "I deduce that you are the daughter of a gardener from Shropshire from the dirt on your boots." Nonsense, but it seems tricky and smart, and people get a real rush from identifying with a genius character. Plus, we never even get to see the detective do one piece of real detective deuction; the most crucial plot points (finding the keys, arriving at the bathroom), are either lucky or unexplained. The movie starts out with Ben Stiller as the lead guy, but then he just sort of disappears as Bill Pullman takes over. The leading lady is hopelessly inadequate. Only Ryan O'Neal comes across well. Even the music choices are bad (although a running gag about Bill Pullman's character writing bad songs might have something to do with that. The only reason I take the time to slam a movie by a twenty-three-year-old first-time writer/director is because I hate to see so many people praise such a disappointing effort. I have no doubt they all sincerely enjoyed it, but make no mistake: it is a bad movie all the same. People are just taken in by the writer/director's insistant hammering away at his (baseless) claim that this is a clever film.
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Had No Effect on Me
Jimmy Jimmereeno24 November 1999
I rented this and hoped it might be a cool indie movie that I missed and no one ever heard of. There's a reason no one's ever heard of it, it kinda sucks. No it definitely sucks. A lot of the other comments and reviews here might lead you to believe you're going to see an intelligent, plot-twisting detective story. Well, the plot just tries to be intelligent by being so complicated the viewer needs to keep notes to follow the "twists". Stupid romantic subplot and a scooby-doo ending.
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Zero Effect has zero impact.
st-shot2 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
"World's greatest detective" Daryl Arlo has a lot of quirks and rules that make him one of the more unique entries in the offbeat private eye world. With a methodology that demands he keep his distance the raspy voiced, head tilted Zero narrates like a philosophical zombie breaking his own rules along the way. It is a tiresome listen, featuring listless performances, contrived situations and poor pacing that will you have you yawning midway.

Zero is hired by wealthy Greg Stark to find out who is blackmailing him. Sparks glosses over possibility and motive forcing Zero and faithful assistant Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller) to dig deeper follow a different tack to get answers. But wouldn't you know it a dame (Kim Dickens) greases up the works for the focused Zero as he ignores one of his hip Holmes axioms "passion is the enemy of precision. Still Zero pulls himself together to tie ends up, but he will never be the same.

Listening to Pullman drone on is like listening to chalkboard screeching as he listlessly deduces interminably making it hard to believe he could feel passionate about anything. Stiller's moaning and groaning flunky fares little better especially when going seriously dead pan after some spineless whining. Dickens and O'Neal also chip in medical examiner performances but when was Ryan anything else but flat. Zach Kasdan's direction follow's suit with lackluster composition and sluggish scenes (the gym in particular) that fail to resonate as Kasdan waits for Pullman to gather his off beat approach. If I go on about the six minute phone conversation climax it would be piling on. Suffice to say the title sums Zero Effect succinctly.
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Ben Stiller Disappoints/ Story Lacks Power
snow-1923 July 1999
This movie convinced me that Ben Stiller (a.k.a the white Samuel L. Jackson nowadays - in reference to his numerous movie roles) needs to go to acting school. It's not the fact that Ben Stiller is necessarily a bad actor, it's just that I don't think he's taken the time to really learn how to perform on the big screen in starring roles. Stiller's comic genius goes undisputed, and his potential as a director is intriguing. However, as was painfully apparent in the Zero Effect, Stiller's acting skills need to be refined. The script was witty, and Bill Pullman was a definite bright spot, but quite frankly the ending sucked. There is no way to softly describe an ending as boring and cheesy as that of the Zero Effect. The melodrama that is forcibly injected into the movie (a.k.a Pullman's love interest) is undesired and disruptive. Although this film is worth your 3 dollars (Pullman is worth $2.75 of it himself), it lacks the power and spirit that is essential to a quality film.
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Jon Monsarrat review: nonsensical & fails to be clever
johnnymonsarrat3 August 2002
Zero Effect is supposed to be a comedy, but the actors play it straight, and the parody elements don't work. So ultimately the film turns out to be a detective story.

Unfortunately, there are some serious disconnects between the way the characters are supposed to behave and the way it comes across on screen. Daryl Zero, the famous detective, is both arrogant but also sweet. He is clever, but also stupid. He doesn't know how to act around people, but can pull off the most difficult nuances of human interaction.

Comedy is partly timing, and the timing is all off in the film. There are weird disconnects from scene to scene. For example, in a running gag, Ben Stiller is forced to fly across country back and forth repeatedly. The "straight man" bit never comes across well.

To cap it off, both romantic plot lines fail completely. There isn't a romantic tension, and without giving anything away... the ending was totally nonsensical. The casting and editing were pretty bad, but I would mainly fault the writing, and the performance by Bill Pullman.

Who should see this film:

-- nobody, even if you think you might want to

I'll give Zero Effect an awful 3 out of 10, which is the lowest rating I'll give a film that I could actually get all the way through.
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Did I missing something?
Mookie-216 August 1999
I am sorry, fans of this film, and please, don't get all mad at me, but I found this film to be really pretty dreadful. It just dragged, it wasn't funny with the exception of a few things. I give it points for not following the usual comedy patterns, but it really wasn't good. It was just a bore, and very unengaging.
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Too Little, Too Late
ccthemovieman-126 September 2006
This starts off pretty good, gets a little better and then fades in the second half and keeps fading.

The twists and revelations in the final minute come too late to save the film. Once the suspense the romance ends, it just doesn't work the rest of the way.

All of the characters, except by the one played by Ben Stiller, are either crooked or have no life or no conscience so it was tough for me to like a film that has so many unappealing leads.

Bill Pullman's narration was pretty good but there was little else for me to recommend this film.
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Rename it the "Zzzzzzzzero Effect"
el oso23 August 1999
This movie has the distinction in my book as one of the few that put me to sleep while sober. It is also unique in that it one that I shut off before the ending because I couldn't take it anymore. Several times I was brought to a state of semi-consciousness by an interesting plot point only to be let down by a total lack of interesting resolution. Watch this flick if you want a good nap.
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Student Project
tedg6 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I like mysteries because they engage the reader and writer in a battle of wits, where the reader's mind is always trying to be ahead of the narrative. Its the nearest thing to living in the future. It can be powerful stuff in the hands of an intelligent filmmaker.

So...student project: what do you have to do to Sherlock Holmes to make him work in a modern film context? Need to preserve the deduction, reclusiveness, probably the drugtaking, bachelorhood and of course establish a Watson of some type.

Here we have young Kasden's solution. The engagement here is not so much with guessing the story -- all is revealed very early. Instead the game is watching a movie that likely could have been great, and superimposing your own solutions to make it better.

Stiller and Pullman are good enough choices. But we see little of Zero's talent. Most of what we see is ordinary snooping. His haunted ruminations don't seem connected to the rest of him. This needed some work. Stiller's character too -- we have no idea why he is indispensable. Probably the one element of Watson that should have been kept is his daftness sometime prompting insights.

But so much in this genre is defined not by characters entering a situation, but characters who are defined by a situation -- and the situation here isn't very interesting. It has some promise, with a couple false conclusions, but no red herrings. Ryan O'Neal reminds of William Shatner. Horrible. And our mastermind female never charms, never seems intelligent. Dickens just cannot project that magic illusion of manipulating the environment according to some inscrutable plan.

I think this young filmmaker has some clever general notions about what works, but he seems to lack the talent or intuition to really make those notions sing.
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The Corrodium Three Deduction
tieman6414 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"To Sherlock Holmes, she is always 'the woman'. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. And yet there was but one woman to him, and that woman was the late Irene Adler, of dubious and questionable memory." - A Scandal in Bohemia

Jake Kasdan directs "Zero Effect", an excellent but little-seen film which relocates Arthur Conan Doyle's now-iconic Sherlock Holmes to contemporary United States. The film's narrative is loosely based on "A Scandal in Bohemia", an early Holmes classic.

The plot? Bill Pullman plays Darryl Zero, a socially inept private detective who lives a secluded existence, locked away in the high-tech apartment from which he solves cases from afar, often without ever leaving his home. As he is "The World's Greatest Detective", most of Zero's job offers come to him from high-flying corporate types, who pay well and are willing to forgive the detective for his many eccentricities. Meanwhile, in his private life, Zero's a slob, recluse, seems to be nursing some deep scars and relies on assistant Steve Arlo, played by Ben Stiller, to act as a continuous middle man. Arlo does all of Zero's legwork, sets up meetings, interviews and attends events on Zero's behalf. Zero's philosophy is to have "zero effect", to remain "outside the world", such that "there is no feedback", "no contamination", "no trace effects". He solves crimes from above, a distance, through sheer mental computation, research, intellect and study, and intervenes directly, steps into the petri dish, only via his physical avatar, Arlo. As Arlo says to a prospective client: "Zero never meets any of his clients. He doesn't speak with them or for that matter communicate in any direct fashion. He never even leaves the house."

This modus operandi breaks down when Zero is pulled into a blackmail case which piques his interest. As such he travels to LA – a city romantically associated with private detectives – and sets about investigating. Hilariously, the case revolves something as trivial as a set of lost keys. But the mystery isn't important, and the film seems more interested in functioning as a character study. In this regard Zero meets a blackmailer called Gloria Sullivan, who intrigues the great detective. As Zero has zero social life, no social skills and is awkward around women, he finds approaching Gloria unsettling. She's based on Irene Adler from Doyle's "A Scandal in Bohemia", both clever women with a fondness for blackmailing powerful men.

At its best, "Zero Effect" functions as a love story about a damaged couple who struggle to connect. Take, for example, a scene in which Zero's painfully uncomfortable around Gloria; he all but explodes when she briefly touches him. Elsewhere the film flips several Sherlock Holmes conventions, with Zero (rather than Watson) documenting his methods himself via voice-overs and a combative relationship between Zero and his sidekick, Arlo, who can't stand the eccentric detective at all. There are other changes - Zero does amphetamines whilst Holmes did cocaine, Zero jams on acoustic guitars whilst Holmes did violins and Zero taps away at computers whilst Holmes prowled bookcases and ledgers – but these are all minor.

This was Kasdan's debut as a director, so aesthetically the film's a bit shaky. A lovably weird performance by Pullman, who was making a number of neo-noirs and interesting films during this period (Lynch's "Lost Highway", Wenders' "End of Violence" etc), makes up for this. The script was written by the young Kasdan himself (roughly 22 years old), and is well written, particularly Zero's noirish monologues.

8.5/10 – See another excellent Holmes film, "They Might be Giants". Worth two viewings.
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Interesting comedy/drama
blanche-27 October 2009
"Zero Effect" (1998) is a comedy/drama starring Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller, Ryan O'Neal, and Kim Dickens. Bill Pullman is Daryl Zero, a combination of Howard Hughes and Sherlock Holmes - an eccentric recluse with amazing deductive powers. Ben Stiller is Steve Arlo, his representative with the clients. The job is taking a toll on Steve's relationship with his girlfriend Jess. A high-powered man (O'Neal) is being blackmailed and, through Steve, hires Daryl Zero to find out who is blackmailing him and also to recover some keys that he lost. He believes the keys have given the blackmailer information he shouldn't have. Darryl works on the case hands-on, though distancing himself from the client, and becomes entangled with a paramedic (Dickens) whom he believes has something to do with the case.

The acting is very good, particularly from Pullman and Stiller, and the script by writer/director Jake Kasdan is good, with some quirky twists. Unfortunately he also has his main character, the brilliant Daryl Zero, make a couple of stupid slips to facilitate the plot. No fair! All in all, "Zero Effect" is an odd film - it's not really a comedy, actually coming off more like a drama, and it's very low-key in its delivery, which is surprising with someone like Stiller in the cast. And it's quite absorbing, not at all a "zero effect."
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Great Update and Remake
Laura Seabrook10 May 2007
This is a great update and remake of the Sherlock Holmes adventure "A Scandal in Bohemia". If Sherlock were around in contemporary times, this is what he would be like. I understand that the film was re-made for TV, with Alan Cumming and Julian Hirsch. It's hard to imagine that they'd recreate the chemistry between Bill Pulman and Ben Stiller. It may be however that the idea was taken up and run with two other shows - Monk and House.

In any case it's a pity that now sequels were made. Perhaps, like so many other things, the stars went their different ways and the rights lapsed. A pity.
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sarastro723 November 2004
I got this movie very cheaply, and expected to just watch it once and then chuck it out. (I generally avoid Ben Stiller.) But it was a very pleasant surprise. Bill Pullman is great. The girl, Kim Dickens, is great. The story starts off as obvious comedy, but in the course of the movie things get more and more serious, and other than the funny premise about the reclusive detective with the ridiculously encyclopedic knowledge, it really isn't a comedy. The story is engrossing, and you grow to care for the characters. Even Stiller's situation, and decisions, are understandable and believable.

Pullman and Dickens' characters - Daryl "Nick" Zero and Gloria - had a great relationship developing. I really like the fact that, even though Gloria knew that "Nick" wasn't who he claimed to be, she still knew that he was being honest in his feelings for her. She never doubted that. That's a kind of understanding that you rarely see in movie situations like that. They always tend to make a big deal out of the "you were just faking your affection for me!" kind of thing, and then spending a tediously long time sorting out the misunderstanding. Very refreshing to have it handled more maturely and insightfully here.

I would have liked Pullman and Dickens' characters to have ended up together; there didn't really seem to be any pressing reason for their remaining apart. But the writer-director apparently didn't want the typical romantic cliché ending, and I can understand that (even though I disagree with the decision in this case).

While not a superb masterpiece, this was a good and interesting movie, which will be worth watching again sometime. Definitely a keeper.

7 out of 10.
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