Zero Effect 1997

Zero Effect

Critics Consensus

A promising debut for writer/director Jake Kasdan, Zero Effect overcomes its flaws with its off-kilter humor and likeable leads.

65%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 51

77%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,821

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Movie Info

Private investigator Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) is one of the finest sleuths in the world but also one of the most eccentric. A recluse prone to odd behavior, Daryl utilizes his assistant, Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller), as his face to see clients. When businessman Gregory Stark (Ryan O'Neal) falls victim to a blackmail plot, he employs Daryl to find the culprit. Daryl starts to home in on Gloria Sullivan (Kim Dickens) as a suspect, but he also finds her attractive, which complicates the case.

Cast & Crew

Bill Pullman
Daryl Zero
Ben Stiller
Steve Arlo
Ryan O'Neal
Gregory Stark
Kim Dickens
Gloria Sullivan
Sara DeVincentis
Daisy
Matt O'Toole
Kragan Vincent
Jim Behnke
Executive Producer
Naomi Despres
Co-Producer
Bill Pope
Cinematographer
Tara Timpone
Film Editor
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News & Interviews for Zero Effect

Critic Reviews for Zero Effect

All Critics (51) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (18)

Audience Reviews for Zero Effect

  • Dec 24, 2019
    Writer/director Jake Kazdan (Hollywood royalty, eh?) creatively reimagines a bickering Holmes (Bill Pullman) and Watson (Ben Stiller) in the modern-day, hired to solve a blackmail plot. Ryan O'Neal is okay as the aggrieved complainant. The twist in this take is Professor Moriarty, an intrigue that's interesting, if not fully realised. Decent, but don't think too hard.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • May 06, 2012
    the film does drag along for a while but the overall film is quite interesting. pullman is well cast in the lead and delivers the performance needed for such a role. if you watch the trailer and walk into this you will feel robbed as this isn't your usual slapstick comedy. treading in coen territory i enjoyed this film alot and wish it had made a bigger dent in the indie cinema circuit. Stiller is fantastic in an early support role and it's a shame he dedicated most of his career to slapstick, as he clearly has the capabilities for dramatic characters. If you walk into this film with the expectations of a riot comedy, you'll be quite annoyed. This is a quirky drama film with interesting twists and turns that unfold right until the conclusion. Kasdan directs carefully, not letting the comedy overlap the story. This a cult film awaiting discovery, I'm sure the fans who have found it shoot high praise. 10-12-2017.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Nov 29, 2011
    The first 45 minutes of Zero Effect are some of the best 45 minutes I've ever seen in a movie. It's so stylistic and exuberant that it's impossible not to enjoy yourself. The characters are great (especially the lead performance from Bill Pullman) and interesting, the soundtrack is fabulous, and the story is pretty involving. It starts off like any detective movie, but it takes the road less traveled; a road that leads more towards drama than it does thrills. But as the movie goes on, it loses steam. The first half is so great but it is also very misleading. You think that you're getting into a good crime-caper film, when, in reality, things get real quiet real fast and everything's just going to end like you imagined. And a little predictability never hurt anyone. There are plenty of movies out there that recycle the same formula that's been done a thousand times and they somehow manage to pull it off. But you just can't start off so originally and then end so... well, plainly. I just kinda lost interest in the final minutes. I'm not asking for something mind-blowing; just something that I haven't seen before. And I also didn't like how the film started on Ben Stiller's character and then ended with Pullman's character. Stiller wasn't even really in the second half of the movie at all. Sure, I liked his character a lot less than Pullman's, but that doesn't mean I want him gone. Now, the high points of Zero Effect are three things. First off, the wonderful soundtrack by the Greyboy Allstars. It's a smooth blend of jazz and funk, and it's just a pure pleasure to the ears, keeping up right on pace with the action. Second, the camerawork. I'm not a big fan of static shots, so I like seeing the camera move. Especially when it's in angles that I've never seen before. And thirdly, the lead performance from Bill Pullman. Why wasn't he nominated for a Golden Globe or something? It's such an energetic and charismatic performance that is just a treat to watch.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Aug 15, 2011
    The first 45 minutes of Zero Effect are some of the best 45 minutes I've ever seen in a movie. It's so stylistic and exuberant that it's impossible not to enjoy yourself. The characters are great (especially the lead performance from Bill Pullman) and interesting, the soundtrack is fabulous, and the story is pretty involving. It starts off like any detective movie, but it takes the road less traveled; a road that leads more towards drama than it does thrills. But as the movie goes on, it loses steam. The first half is so great but it is also very misleading. You think that you're getting into a good crime-caper film, when, in reality, things get real quiet real fast and everything's just going to end like you imagined. And a little predictability never hurt anyone. There are plenty of movies out there that recycle the same formula that's been done a thousand times and they somehow manage to pull it off. But you just can't start off so originally and then end so... well, plainly. I just kinda lost interest in the final minutes. I'm not asking for something mind-blowing; just something that I haven't seen before. And I also didn't like how the film started on Ben Stiller's character and then ended with Pullman's character. Stiller wasn't even really in the second half of the movie at all. Sure, I liked his character a lot less than Pullman's, but that doesn't mean I want him gone. Now, the high points of Zero Effect are three things. First off, the wonderful soundtrack by the Greyboy Allstars. It's a smooth blend of jazz and funk, and it's just a pure pleasure to the ears, keeping up right on pace with the action. Second, the camerawork. I'm not a big fan of static shots, so I like seeing the camera move. Especially when it's in angles that I've never seen before. And thirdly, the lead performance from Bill Pullman. Why wasn't he nominated for a Golden Globe or something? It's such an energetic and charismatic performance that is just a treat to watch.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer

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