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THE COOLER

It’s nice to see that Alec Baldwin has plenty of four-letter words left in his vocabulary after Glengarry, Glen Ross. That and William H. Macy going down on Maria Bello and baring his own butt qualifies Wayne Kramer’s debut picture as "raw" and "daring," I suppose. But The Cooler is also derivative, contrived, and corny.

Macy’s Bernie is so unlucky that he’s hired by Baldwin’s Shelly to "cool" down the luck of winners in the casino he manages. Soon Bernie gets tired of the game, especially when Bello’s sexy cocktail waitress, Natalie, responds to his attentions. An over-the-top exercise in campy excess and gratuitous violence immersed in the tacky, timeless ambiance of a Las Vegas that’s seen better days, The Cooler is like Martin Scorsese’s Casino as a sub-par HBO series. Maybe Macy saw this as a chance to do a love scene; otherwise he goes through the same schlemiel routine he perfected in Fargo. Kramer has an ear for salty dialogue (Baldwin’s excesses excepted) and an eye for the dreary detail, but he should cool down the histrionics. (101 minutes)


Issue Date: December 19 - 25, 2003
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