The Cooler

2003, Drama/Romance, 1h 41m

174 Reviews 10,000+ Ratings

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A small movie elevated by superb performances. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Truly down on his luck, lonely single guy Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy) works at a Las Vegas casino, where he uses his innate ability to bring about misfortune in those around him to jinx gamblers into losing. His imposing boss, Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), is happy with the arrangement. But Bernie finds unexpected happiness when he begins dating attractive waitress Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello) -- and when his contentment starts to affect his job, Shelly seeks to end the relationship.

Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Cooler

Audience Reviews for The Cooler

  • Sep 12, 2012
    I liked this movie a lot. Solid performances all around, particularly from Alec Baldwin. The actual premise is pretty unrealistic: William H. Macy plays a man who goes around from table to table in a Vegas casino so he can bring bad luck down on a player who's winning too much. Things get really interesting when his son comes into the mix and asks him for money so he can support his pregnant wife. Things get out of control when Baldwin and his son collide in a shocking, jaw dropping, and incredibly well done scene. Character development is noticeably present, as Macy's luck changes when he falls in love with a waitress at the casino (maria Bello). Her acting is fantastic as well. If it weren't for these great performances, The Cooler would have been dragged down, but luckily the acting fleshes out the plot. With excellent performances and an awesome original score, The Cooler works quite well. Final score: 8.5.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • May 08, 2012
    In some ways, the film can be seen as a fairy tale. The protagonist is weak but at the end becomes something beyond human with the help of his muse. Beautifully shot and captures the spirit of Vegas after dark very well!
    paul o Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2012
    From co-writer/director Wayne Kramer (but not the guy from the MC5) comes this stylish, charming, and underrated little gem of a movie about a professional loser. Bernie Lootz has perpetual bad luck, so he makes his living at a Vegas casino as a cooler- the guy they send in to end a gambler's hot streak. Bernie is great at his job, but his life (and his luck) begin to change when he meets and subsequently falls in love with Natalie, an utterly gorgeous waitress co-worker. This wouldn't be so bad if this change didn't also have an effect on Shelly Kaplow, the last of the old time gangster casino owners who is trying like hell to escape the Disneyfication of Vegas and keep things from changing. Filled with a great jazzy score from Mark Isham, a new twist on an old plot, decent writing, and terrific acting from a first rate cast, this is an exceptional romantic dramedy. Well, mostly drama, since the bulk of the humor is rather dark and melancholy. Indeed, there are actually some really dark moments throughout, but it's nothing as downbeat as Leaving Las Vegas. Macy is perfect as Bernie, and his weary facial expressions and impish mannerisms really nail the type of guy Bernie is. In many ways, this character is comparable to Macy's other perfect character Jerry from Fargo. MAria Bello is quite excellent as Natalie, and this film really helped her career take off. Turning in one of his last truly menacing dramatic performances is Alec Baldwin in an Oscar nominated turn as Shelly, the no-nonsense ruthless casino boss. Ron Livingston also is good in a supporting role as an Ivy League young gun trying to put Shelly out ot pasture. This is some really great stuff. It's sometiems rather uneven with the mix of wry romance with the dark underside of Vegas poking through, but in the end it all comes full circle and ends as it should, though you do need to be cool with Deus Ex Machina type stuff in order to accept the climax. Give this one a shot. It's a shame it's not as revered as it nees to be.
    Chris W Super Reviewer
  • Dec 12, 2011
    Maria Bello and Bill Macy are solid as always, but the movie overall was a letdown.
    Wu C Super Reviewer

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