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The Cooler (2003)

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


Wayne Kramer
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 25 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
William H. Macy ... Bernie Lootz
Alec Baldwin ... Shelly Kaplow
Maria Bello ... Natalie Belisario
Shawn Hatosy ... Mikey
Ron Livingston ... Larry Sokolov
Paul Sorvino ... Buddy Stafford
Estella Warren ... Charlene
Arthur J. Nascarella ... Nicky Fingers Bonnatto
Joey Fatone ... Johnny Cappella
M.C. Gainey ... Highway Officer (as MC Gainey)
Ellen Greene ... Doris
Don Scribner ... Lou
Tony Longo ... Tony
Richard Israel Richard Israel ... Marty Goldfarb
Timothy Landfield ... The Player


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


When your life depends on losing... the last thing you need is lady luck. See more »


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

16 January 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cooler See more »


Box Office


$3,200,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$128,973, 30 November 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,243,880, 21 March 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Bernie pulls up to his motel room, just prior to discovering Natalie's injuries following Shelly's visit to their room, the faulty neon sign for the EZ Mini Market is reflected in his car's windscreen. At one point it displays EZ Mark, a reference to the earlier story about how he and Shelly used to identify potential victims for a con, marking them with chalk. At the point Natalie confesses to having been paid by Shelly to get close to him, she calls Bernie an Easy (EZ) Mark. See more »


When Bernie plays craps, he is shown placing two stacks of chips side-by-side on the pass line. This is incorrect - a player's entire bet must be placed in one vertical stack. AFTER a point is established, a player make "take the odds" by placing a second stack of chips BEHIND the original pass line bet. A second stack of chips on the pass line next to the player's bet would be assumed by the crew to be a toke - a bet for the dealers. See more »


[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 »

Alternate Versions

The film was cut by the MPAA to achieve an R rating. See more »


Featured in 10th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (2004) See more »


Almost Like Being in Love
Music by Frederick Loewe
Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (as Allan Lerner)
Performed by Nick D'Egidio
Courtesy of TSR Records, Ltd.
See more »

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User Reviews

Give me a Break!
13 February 2004 | by kg22384See all my reviews

This movie was terrible! How can so many people laud this film? I don't get it. Where do I start. Sheesh. First of all, it was shot like a student film that just happened to have some major stars and a primo set. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the indie film scene. In fact I love the indie film scene. In fact I thrive on the indie film scene. But guess what. Just because something is made poorly like a student film, doesn't make it an indie film, and even if it did, doesn't mean the indie crowd has to swoon over every indie film that's released. You can't attribute the poor film exposure, the clunky storytelling, the blatant 'envelope pushing' sex scenes, and the absolute absence of any kind of filmmaking style to the fact that its an independent film making a statement, because its not. In fact, at its fundamental level, The Cooler is the essence of a Hollywood film; it's a gaudy, regurgitated story (try Leaving Las Vegas meets Casino), with absolutely unnecessary nudity, and some stupid subtext about a guy's luck that always seems to turn just when the writer can't seem to figure out a logical way to save the hero. Could you define a hollywood film more to the 't'?

I was thoroughly disenchanted by this film. Fine, ok, the acting by almost every player was superb. Funny, the script must have had some potential to hook the likes of Baldwin and Macy (both fantistic and complete with their portrayals), and of course, hooking two stars like that, you can practically reign in any other minor star you want in hollywood. Unfortunately, your potential on the page does not equal a great film. As many first time, or first few times directors, the story is anything but developed. Wayne Kramer can't seem to establish any kind of pace to the movie and juxtaposes full on dramatic, super reality scenes (like casino), with surreal, "magical", luck driven scenes. Its awful. Are we watching a drama or a fantasy? No doubt superstition has long driven many people in Vegas (and it would seem that goes for the 'old school' Casino owners themselves), and if that was the strain Kramer was going with, he should have stuck with it. Polluting it with gritty 'who knows what's going to happen next' reality scenes undermined any belief I had suspended in the magic of luck.

The film had a very episodic nature to it, something like P.T. Anderson's 'Magnolia'. The difference is, Anderson knows how to pull his film together into a cohesive, consistent story, one that stays true to the pace it sets, and is constructed with an ability to understand the story as a whole, as well as how all the little pieces fit together. I got the feeling Kramer never really got a grasp of the story he was telling. The man controlling the camera (ie. the director) has to use that camera to tell the story. Kramer may develop into a great director one day, but in the meantime, he needs to focus on figuring out how to create a story with one consistent style that is simpatico with the story he's trying to tell.

My suggestion would be to visit a few more indie film theaters, or visit some festivals or something. There are so many extremely talented storytellers out there. Yes, maybe I'm being a little bit nitpicky. And yeah, sometimes it sucks, because when you're nitpicky, most films suck. But the thing is, when you see the really good films, the ones that make you forget that your sitting in a theater, you're floored and the experience is all but palpable. You see, I don't nitpick as habit in all films. I nitpick because a film is so lopsided, it makes me aware that I'm in a theater. It makes me aware of an inconsistent style, or obvious plot holes. So all you Cooler fans out there, don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger. Kramer's the one who mismade the film. Get mad at him, then go see something like Lost in Translation or The Girl with a Pearl Earing, which are both great examples of indie film at its best.

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