7.0/10
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217 user 140 critic

The Cooler (2003)

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2:29 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

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

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Cast

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
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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:

When your life depends on losing... the last thing you need is lady luck. 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 January 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cooler See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$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

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Features Alec Baldwin's only Oscar-nominated performance. See more »

Goofs

In the motel, when Shelly confronts Natalie, the camera and its operator are reflected in the upper right-hand corner of the mirror. 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 »

Alternate Versions

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


Soundtracks

My Funny Valentine
(1937)
Music by Richard Rodgers
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Arranged by Mark Isham
Performed by Tierney Sutton
See more »

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User Reviews

Performances are rich
19 January 2004 | by QcoatlSee all my reviews

The Cooler is an odd but ultimately satisfying mixture of real feelings, unexpected violence and improbable situations set against of the backdrop of a Las Vegas nearly gone from this world.

William H. Macy plays Bernie, the Cooler of the title. He is a man whose luck is so bad that it not only infects his own life, but can be rubbed off on unsuspecting gamblers at the Golden Shangri-La casino where he works. By merely touching the table where a winner is betting he can change their luck to bad, thereby cooling off their winning streak. It is in this capacity that he meets a cocktail waitress named Natalie (Maria Bello) who begins a relationship with him after he cools the luck of a customer who gets fresh with her. As the unlikely couple begin to form a strong bond, Bernie's luck begins to change. It is when Shelly (Alec Baldwin), the casino manager and boss to both Bernie and Natalie imposes his will on the situation that Bernie's newfound luck and love are tested.

Macy has spent his career playing hapless losers and hard luck characters. In Bernie, he hits the jackpot, delivering a well modulated, brave performance. Brave because he allows Bernie to be shown for what he really is, a not overly attractive, middle aged loser in both body and spirit. Macy shows us a lot of himself both literally and figuratively and it is that which brings a sense of truth to the performance.

Baldwin, who is being billed as a mere co-star is actually a major player in the story. Shelly is a character who utilizes more brute force than the usual steely-eyed verbal barrages that Baldwin excels at. But Shelly is a great character for Baldwin, a man so sure of his place in life and even in Vegas history that he will not bend under any amount of pressure. The Golden Shangri-La is, according to Shelly, the last of the old-style Vegas casinos. The proposed remodel of the casino threatens Shelly at a deep level, making him all the more inflexible. This is definitely bad news for anyone Shelly comes into contact with who would try to thwart his will in any way, including Bernie and Natalie. It is a tribute to Baldwin that the Shelly is someone the audience can never find it in their hearts to dislike completely, despite his intolerable actions.

If in the end, the improbabilities of the story overshadow the ending, it is a fairly minor consideration. This is a movie of performances more than storytelling. Macy's performance is so fine and delicate that one is hard pressed to see how difficult it must have been to do. Bello, as Natalie, shows an underlying fragility that draws the viewer to her and shows us why Bernie would love her. And Baldwin is the hurricane force wind that rages and storms through the proceedings. And it is the audience who is lucky enough to see it all.


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