February 7th, 2004


Wm H Macy

I liked "Fargo".
I have liked several movies by Mamet.
"Payback" was OK.

Based mostly on that foundation, I went to see "The Cooler" today. William H. Macy plays a guy with supernaturally bad luck. Luck so bad that even being around this guy gives other people bad luck. He's in debt to Alec Baldwin, who owns a casino. Naturally, Baldwin employs Macy to kill lucky bettors' winning streaks. And then Macy hooks up with Maria Bello, who turns Macy's luck around, with predictable conflicts.

It's a romantic comedy with a really really dark streak. I like dark comedies, but I don't need bones breaking or people summarily executed. People beaten in a basement to teach them a lesson seems completely appropriate for a movie set in Vegas, but...

It was funny, it was disconcerting. If you like Macy, you'll probably enjoy this. He's not quite as neurotic as in many of his other films. Warning: there's nudity. It makes sense, but it probably wasn't all necessary. There was one funny scene where both Macy and Bello are in their altogethers, and it's not a sexy scene at all, but it wouldn't have worked as well with clothing. Also, warning: there's violence. Again, it makes sense, but I would have been interested to have seen a movie with less of the violence. I don't know how you'd do that.

Maybe it's easier to paint this as a fantasy story told with a semi-realistic Vegas as the setting, which constrains you to a dark palette.

I give it 3 stars out of 4.