Lions Gate Films | Release Date: November 26, 2003
6.7
USER SCORE
Generally favorable reviews based on 44 Ratings
USER RATING DISTRIBUTION
Positive:
26
Mixed:
13
Negative:
5
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10
AbbeB.Jun 4, 2004
Thank you, William H. Macy,thank you, Alec Baldwin, thank you Maria Bello, and thank you, Wayne Kramer (especially you for creativity here). You have truly made played the lead in a film that looks like a real, live 'movie'. They Thank you, William H. Macy,thank you, Alec Baldwin, thank you Maria Bello, and thank you, Wayne Kramer (especially you for creativity here). You have truly made played the lead in a film that looks like a real, live 'movie'. They say a good movie, a really good story is one that hooks you long after the end credits. This film has been a real pleasure. My Dad lives in Las Vegas. He asked me to see "The Cooler" because he said that Mr Baldwin had nailed the role of the wiseguy Casino Boss down cold. My Dad palled around with guys like Shelly. But my Dad did not tell me about the plot, which is mystical in a sense, about the transformation love can bring. Real, true grand-mall love. What a surprise for me! I do not rate ANY films a "10". But if a film moves you, you rate it a "10". Abbe B. Expand
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7
MarcK.Apr 30, 2004
This film's now on DVD, and there are so few "User" reviews, including when this was released in the theater? Amazing! I thought most of those on MetaCritic were a savvy bunch, and would have seen this movie, and felt moved enough This film's now on DVD, and there are so few "User" reviews, including when this was released in the theater? Amazing! I thought most of those on MetaCritic were a savvy bunch, and would have seen this movie, and felt moved enough either way to comment on it. In any event, I can see why Baldwin got the Supporting Actor nomination...he does a great job. But so does Bello, Macy, and Livingston. However, there were too many things about this film that made it maddeningly implausible. Sure, the ending is implausible, but if that were the only implausible part, I'd be fine. Instead, it was like the 30th implausible part. Expand
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8
UterJun 18, 2004
Definitely well acted and well done, but the idea of a cooler could have been more fun. Instead, it's somewhat dark and slow.
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4
PatC.Sep 28, 2004
This craft strains mightily to lift off but runs out of runway.
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3
ShannonP.Feb 16, 2004
If you?re looking for a movie with new or at least real insights about Vegas, gambling, casinos or just life itself?this movie will profoundly disappoint. The script seems based more on the writer?s fantasy of what these things might be If you?re looking for a movie with new or at least real insights about Vegas, gambling, casinos or just life itself?this movie will profoundly disappoint. The script seems based more on the writer?s fantasy of what these things might be like, based in turn on other mediocre movies and television productions. The problem is compounded by a number of implausible premises?not the least of which is the basic concept of a ?cooler.? There are also many implausible plot twists?especially a scene at the end. I won?t give that away though, which would spoil your chance to experience some real indignation?the strongest emotion this film will evoke. On the upside, there are so many cliches strung together that before long they lose their sting and you just accept that you will inhabit a dumbed-down world for the next two hours. Even given that resignation, there is a lot here that is so derivative its still painful. For example, there is a scene in which a young gambler mocks an older gambler while shooing craps that is lifted straight out of Hard Eight. (In the former movie, however, the scene played out in a natural way that was actually poignant, whereas here the audience is ultimately indulged as the old man loses it and physically brutalizes his obnoxious antagonist.) As if to compensate for the underlying fantasy, the film is shot so harshly that we can see every ?real? flaw in the actors' faces. They even manage to make Maria Bellow look awful. There is one scene in which the sex is portrayed as so awkward that the audience is apparently supposed to conclude this movie must somehow be ?real.? At least the acting isn?t truly bad, although Bellow works so hard to make her uneducated, working class character seem believable that at times you feel the character may be retarded. Of course, Macy is great at playing losers, but we?ve seen that so many times before that at times you may forget which movie this is. Baldwin is actually great, once you get past the fact that the character he is playing couldn?t exist in this century. This is another fact not lost on film makers?, who attempt to compensate by inserting multiple references to the character and his methods as ?old school.? In the end, the attempts to manipulate the audience into accepting a wildly implausible story are worse that the story itself. Expand
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9
ScottB.Feb 6, 2004
I saw this movie weeks ago and it still is fresh in my head. Go see this one...
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9
BobbetteS.Mar 20, 2004
Fresh, unexpected, funny tale of redemption and the hope for change most of us cling to.
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9
RicoMay 6, 2004
We need more original movies like this with few special effects to distract from human comedy and drama. This was a breath of fresh air and had some plot twists that I didn't see coming. Very nice!
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2
ScottA.Jun 5, 2004
I can't believe that this movie got "generally favourable" reviews. This has got be one of the worst movies I've ever seen, save for the acting. Apparantly, Las Vegas has no law enforcement whatsoever, except for hitmen dressed I can't believe that this movie got "generally favourable" reviews. This has got be one of the worst movies I've ever seen, save for the acting. Apparantly, Las Vegas has no law enforcement whatsoever, except for hitmen dressed like police who are available -- costume, siren, and all -- at extremely short notice, but take a ridiculously long time to pull the trigger. And why a character would threaten to kill you, beat up your girlfriend, and then beat up another guy for suggesting not to let someone walk away with lots of money is completely beyond me. And how come in this movie the older guys have no trouble kicking the younger people's asses? Something just doesn't make sense. The plot is SO slow, it seems like the movie has finished and nothing at all has happened. And there is no twist at the end; you could see it coming from the beginning which at the point seemed like days ago. This movie is so bad, and if you are reading this, I urge you: SEE SOMETHING ELSE! I hear Waterworld is good. Expand
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5
GinoE.Jun 7, 2004
What is the definition of luck? Can luck be changed or manipulated by love, happiness, sadness or other feelings a man has? This could have been a fantasy film trying to explain luck. This could have been a lightweight romantic comedy. This What is the definition of luck? Can luck be changed or manipulated by love, happiness, sadness or other feelings a man has? This could have been a fantasy film trying to explain luck. This could have been a lightweight romantic comedy. This could have been a serious casino drama. The quistion is: What did Mr. Kramer want 'The cooler' to become? You could say that lot of scenes don't really fit the movie. But which ones are they? That all depends on from what angle you look at it. Especially the ending makes it all even worse. The actors are great, with Baldwin on top. So if you're looking for a good reason to watch it, this is it. For the rest: It could have been something really good, cause there is enough potential, but we've seen more films that tried to combine genres and failed. So this in not the first one. Expand
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9
SeanA.Jun 9, 2004
This film will grab on to you and not let go tell the end. A very unique plot with the flavor of Fargo. Each character is extremely believable which helps absorb you in.
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5
JasonT.Jun 9, 2004
This is as cookie cutter as it gets. I was excited to see this film, especially after hearing all the hype about the performances. I can't think of much good to say about it, though. It is dull, predictable, and a waste of time for the This is as cookie cutter as it gets. I was excited to see this film, especially after hearing all the hype about the performances. I can't think of much good to say about it, though. It is dull, predictable, and a waste of time for the most part. Wait till it hits starz or showtime. Expand
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8
CraigB.Jul 13, 2004
There were some logistical gaps and I was a little unclear of the motivations behind some of the characters' actions, but generally I agree with all of the positive comments about this film. The film could have done more with its There were some logistical gaps and I was a little unclear of the motivations behind some of the characters' actions, but generally I agree with all of the positive comments about this film. The film could have done more with its premise. For example, there is a film entitled "Intacto" that does a great job of examining the concept of "luck", and I would highly recommend that film to anyone who enjoyed this film. Expand
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4
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 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. Expand
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5
UnbearableLightnessDec 10, 2003
I really wanted to like this movie. I'm a big fan of William H Macy and I also love Ron Livingston. Unfortunatly this was one of those movies where you saw every plot point coming from a mile away. By the end of the movie the sound of I really wanted to like this movie. I'm a big fan of William H Macy and I also love Ron Livingston. Unfortunatly this was one of those movies where you saw every plot point coming from a mile away. By the end of the movie the sound of the saxophone made me want to vomit. On a positive note, I felt Macy, Baldwin and Bello all did a great job with a boring plot. Do yourself a favor, stay home and rewatch Casino. Expand
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8
JoeC.Jan 19, 2004
This movie was what I would consider a comedy/drama. I rather enjoyed it. Very strong performance by Alec Baldwin; should be a best supporting actor nomination for this one.
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10
FantasyJan 19, 2004
I saw the movie this weekend with my main squeeze and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The three lead actors, especially, Maria Bello, were outstanding. The movie starts out as a romantic comedy in which you care for all of the characters. I saw the movie this weekend with my main squeeze and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. The three lead actors, especially, Maria Bello, were outstanding. The movie starts out as a romantic comedy in which you care for all of the characters. Bill Macy, the lovable loser. Alec Baldwin, a dinosaur of his time trying to protect his turf. And Maria Bello, the femme fatale, who unexpectedly finds real love. Then the movie takes a dark unexpected twist? It builds to a real climax which will have you holding on for dear life. Kudo's to all for making such an entertaining film. It's definitely a sleeper hit and worth the watch. Expand
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2
YuvalFOct 24, 2004
Thank god for Scott's review. I thought I was gonna go crazy. What the hell is wrong with everyone? This has to be the WORST plot I've seen in the last decade. It doesn't make any sense. None of the action or re-actions makes Thank god for Scott's review. I thought I was gonna go crazy. What the hell is wrong with everyone? This has to be the WORST plot I've seen in the last decade. It doesn't make any sense. None of the action or re-actions makes any sense. The acting is pretty impressive, but how can you enjoy a movie with such weak plot? Awful story. Awful writing. Good acting, but nothing else. Expand
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2
PValentineJan 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 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. Expand
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10
GilH.Dec 22, 2003
A very cool movie indeed. One of the best films about Vegas. And a wonderful, old fashioned love story -- but still very sexy! Great twist at the end!
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7
SmenkharonMay 19, 2004
Predictable yet enjoyable. Great acting all around and a nice mix of plausible realism with improbable fantasy.
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4
RirenFeb 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 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. Expand
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8
PatG.Nov 28, 2003
Is this a perfect movie? No. But it is worth seeing for several reasons. Mainly for William H. Macy's performance. He can do more with his face than Carol Burnett and Jonathan Winters put together--but Macy doesn't need to mug. Is this a perfect movie? No. But it is worth seeing for several reasons. Mainly for William H. Macy's performance. He can do more with his face than Carol Burnett and Jonathan Winters put together--but Macy doesn't need to mug. It's all in the eyes and the soul. He is really something; he doesn't need words to break your heart or make you smile. The other actors are also excellent. This movie is certainly worth two hours of your time. (But be prepared to hide your eyes a few times if you don't like violence.) Expand
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8
MichaelR.Dec 17, 2003
The cooler is definitely a well put together movie, yet it is nothing groundbreaking. Bello, baldwin, & Macy's performances make this movie a good watch. Baldwin's character was one of those bad guy's that you can't help The cooler is definitely a well put together movie, yet it is nothing groundbreaking. Bello, baldwin, & Macy's performances make this movie a good watch. Baldwin's character was one of those bad guy's that you can't help but like. Bello & Macy put in solid efforts with a determined love story. The occasional mild scene twists make this movie worth watching. Expand
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5
JerryR.Dec 18, 2003
An engaging film marred by holes in the script and a deus ex machina ending.
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6
SpangleDec 14, 2016
The Cooler is a low-key early 2000s film that has an almost mystical or fantastical feeling to its very realistic setting, in large due to it taking place in Las Vegas. A dream-like environment in the real world, The Cooler captures thisThe Cooler is a low-key early 2000s film that has an almost mystical or fantastical feeling to its very realistic setting, in large due to it taking place in Las Vegas. A dream-like environment in the real world, The Cooler captures this feeling as it tells the story of the unluckiest man on Earth, Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy). A "cooler" for the Shangri-La casino, Bernie's luck begins to turn around when he meets Natalie (Maria Bello). However, drama arises when it becomes clear that Bernie's cruel, old-school mobster and casino head Shelly (Alec Baldwin) will not let this change of fate happen for Bernie. A character study, The Cooler is a pretty down-to-earth film with nothing extravagant about it and it is a worthy film in this area, but the ending feels far too happy for the subject matter.

In a typically great performance, Macy plays the unlucky and deeply depressed Bernie incredibly well. Emoting the change of fate due to the addition of Natalie to his life, Macy really brings life to the character throughout and does a great job creating sympathy for this sad soul. Through dialogue and small visual cues (such as the cream in the coffee), director Wayne Kramer expertly highlights the difference in Bernie and his aura that surrounds him. At the beginning, when he came on screen, the screen itself felt cold and unwelcoming. By the end, it had a certain warmth and level of comfort that was discovered by Bernie in his scenes with Natalie. Yet, the best part of this movie is Alec Baldwin. Hands down. He did not get a Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination for this role for no reason. Cold, calculating, yet alone, outmatched, and much like a lion being left for dead by his pride, Baldwin is a brutal, yet oddly sympathetic figure at times. Playing this dichotomy very well, Baldwin somehow elicits compassion from the audience despite the horrible actions he partakes in as a mobster and casino owner. By the end, we realize he acts out of pain and desperation in order to keep his control and really becomes a tragic figure by the end. His horrible actions are still inexcusable, such as his abuse of Natalie, but he is a far more complicated figure than one might expect and Baldwin excels in this role here.

Unfortunately this character study, while engaging, is undone by a silly happy ending. Though the film feels as though it spiraling towards a certain conclusion that would fit with the trajectory of its tragic figures, it cops out at the end and opts to give us a lovey dovey conclusion. Not only is it uncharacteristic for the film itself, but it is far too abrupt and, if it needed to be include, should have felt far more seamless and less jarring.

The romance between Natalie and Bernie has a loose and natural feeling that helps it blend into the rest of the film. Though a weaker element compared to the scenes in the casino, the romance still largely works, even if it is incredibly contrived and cliche. From being paid to actual love to trying to run away, the romance in The Cooler may work because of some odd chemistry between Macy and Bello, but it is hardly worthy of the focus it receives in the film as a whole. It is a shame that we did not get more of the relationship between Bernie and Shelly, in particular the issues regarding the casino and its future. There is far more meat on those bones, than in the scenes of romance. While largely well crafted, it is not due to originality or intrigue, but merely rides on the talent of its actors.

A low-key character study, The Cooler is a finely paced and compelling story set in Las Vegas. Graced with the a mystical feeling, The Cooler develops terrific characters, but a cliche romance element and a jarring ending hold the film back from being anything but above average to pretty good. Yet, it is hard to deny that its actors, particularly Alec Baldwin, are absolutely brilliant and the direction by Wayne Kramer is great with terrific subtleties to reveal the true nature of the characters he puts under the microscope.
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