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The Cooler

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2003 1 Jan
The Cooler
from Film Forum, 12/04/03

In The Cooler, William H. Macy (Fargo, Seabiscuit) plays Bernie Lootz, an unlucky Las Vegas gambler who has lost his marriage, his son, his cat, and much more besides. His past has earned him some difficult debts, so he spends his days working at the Shangri-La, trying to appease a demanding Las Vegas casino boss (Alec Baldwin). In fact, Bernie's luck is so bad that he now works as a "cooler." This requires him to sit down at a table where someone is having a lucky run; his mere presence will interrupt the winning. But when he falls for a cocktail waitress named Natalie (Maria Bello) and goes for a tumble in the sheets, his luck apparently changes, and his relationship with his wicked employer turns dangerous.

Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) notes, "The film, originally rated NC-17, has gone through a reedit in order to garner a more marketable R rating. Viewers should still be advised that graphic sex scenes do remain in the film as well as extensive profanity, and violence."

Movieguide's reviewer classifies it as "a quirky, but graphic, romantic comedy that delves into very dark, film noir territory. [It] could have been a much more accessible comic thriller were it not for its obscene amount of strong foul language, graphic sex, explicit nudity, and crude violence. This objectionable content keeps fighting the movie's lighter tone, to the detriment of both the cast and the crew."