Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 36
  2. Negative: 0 out of 36
  1. 88
    The acting is on the money, the writing has substance, the direction knows when to evoke film noir and when (in a trick shot involving loaded dice) to get fancy.
  2. 88
    The movie boasts one of those rare twist endings that strikes the right emotional chords, and it deserves credit for laying its bets on a sexy, sympathetic Macy. Sometimes long shots pay off.
  3. Look for realism, and you'll find The Cooler disappointing. Look for a far-fetched yarn that's as unpredictable as a throw of the dice, though, and you'll find it engaging fun.
  4. 88
    The best thing Baldwin has done in years, and a triumph of low-budget storytelling by a director to watch.
  5. The Cooler is small-scale moviemaking about small-scale lives. But it's big in all the right ways.
  6. 83
    The highlights of The Cooler -- the portrait of Bernie-as-schlub, the ecstatic union of two losers, the depiction of shadowy old Vegas confronted with its sanitized corporate future -- are superb. You can easily live with the rest to get to them.
  7. 88
    Wayne Kramer, who co-wrote the scrappy script with Frank Hannah, makes a potent directing debut and strikes gold with the cast.
  8. Reviewed by: Duane Byrge
    A refreshing throwback to another era of moviemaking: This movie was poured from the bottle, not one of those bar regulator machines. It's got the kick, style and flavor of a straight-up story, before movies were watered down with the opinions of marketers, lawyers and committee heads.
  9. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Wayne Kramer's sexy and often humorous feature directorial debut surrounds its sweet center with the energy, flash and risk of the gambling capital. Sterling performances by William H. Macy and Maria Bello as the long-shot lovers and Alec Baldwin as a temperamental casino operator.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 25
  2. Negative: 4 out of 25
  1. MatthewB.
    Apr 19, 2010
    Awful film. While Leaving los vegas was revolutionary, this pursues the same situation, if not the same story, with little realism or panache. Alec Baldwin's actin is good, and won a few awards, but William Macy seems off-key in his attempt to portray lovable loser Bernie. The romance seems improbable to say the least, and the dialogue is both boring and entirely predictable- add to that the offense of a main character with seemingly supernatural unluckiness, and you have a near-disaster. If it weren't for the sex scenes- which were brave, if overly improbable again - I wouldn't've felt the slightest amount of thrill at this unhappy loser of a dvd. Good luck would be to avoid it. Full Review »
  2. Riren
    Feb 26, 2007
    The leftovers of Casino, served up with a side of morose independent movie spirit. Its so-called love story is half-hearted, an excuse for some uninteresting and brazen sex scenes. William Macy is an amazing actor who I'd watch doing anything, but doing a blonde and frowning at a poker table are a waste of his talents. The movie seals its fate by throwing a dozen false endings at you, none more creative or plausible than the last. I guess they thought they were being clever. They were wrong. Full Review »
  3. PValentine
    Jan 27, 2006
    The whimsy is undercut by the violence and the sex and while it got the whole aura of a dusty casino and dusty people down what was interesting about it? The "love" story was NOT believable to me at the "I'm willing to lose my life for him" level. Full Review »