The Cooler


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"Like a brass bra in January, William H. Macy stars as the titular "cooler".  In a stunning departure from his usual roles, he plays a downtrodden schlub ... Macy may be the master of schlubbiness."



The Cooler
The Masked Reviewer

Since the Masked Reviewer is in Las Vegas these days, he can't help but be interested in any film that's set in Vegas.  Such is the case with The Cooler.  The plot involves the inner-workings of a fictional casino and follows the fictional life of a guy in a fictional job.  In other words, this isn't a documentary film.  For you authenticity buffs out there (and you know who you are), the main character's job as a "cooler" may puzzle you.  They made it up.

A "cooler" is a real thing, though not a person -- but hey, it's a movie.  Things don't have to be real in a movie, and it's an interesting concept.  What's the concept?  Well, the Masked Reviewer can't tell you because of the non-spoiler policy here at  However, it's an interesting idea for a made-up job at a made-up casino.

Like a brass bra in January, William H. Macy stars as the titular "cooler".  In a stunning departure from his usual roles, he plays a downtrodden schlub.  Even his character's name -- Bernie Lootz -- drips with schlublimation.  It's nice to see an actor pushing his limits.  In other films like Fargo and Magnolia, Macy has played a wayward schlub or an unfortunate schlub.  Macy may be the master of schlubbiness.  He has the look of a man who has never had anything go his way.  World weary, sad, hang-dog eyes tell you a lot about his character.  That must save him a lot of energy when acting.  If Eric Roberts were playing this character, he'd have to act more, trying to convince us that he's had a tough and miserable life.  But with Macy, you just look at him and know he's had it rough. 

Maria Bello plays Macy's love interest.  In addition to playing Lil in Coyote Ugly, she played Dr. Anna  Del Amico on E.R. for one season.  If that doesn't tell you who she is, that's okay.  She plays a down-on-her-luck waitress, tough on the outside, yet full of love.  More importantly, she takes her clothes off for many sex scenes with Macy. 

Also appearing in the film is Alec Baldwin.  This is undoubtedly his best work since Cat in the Hat.  Actually, Baldwin is quite good in the role as an over-the-top, old-school casino boss.  Sometimes it's hard to take Alec Baldwin seriously as a tough guy, but he's fun to watch in this role.  How many Baldwins can you say that about, in any given film?  Maybe two, maybe three, tops.

Paul Sorvino has a role as a fading lounge singer.  One can't help but wonder how hard Sorvino worked to get that horrible, un-listenable quality to his voice.  Then again, maybe he was born with it.  Actually, some people may like his singing.  After all, some people like to have intercourse with sheep -- who is the Masked Reviewer to judge? 

The Masked Reviewer doesn't think the following piece of information will spoil any surprises in the film...but also appearing in the film is Joey Fatone.  He also plays a lounge singer.  Now, the Masked Reviewer will admit that while his finger is firmly on the pulse of American cinema, his other fingers are nowhere near the pulse of American pop music.  When told that Joey Fatone was in the film, the Masked Reviewer had never heard of him.  For those of you who are similarly in the dark about such things, Joey Fatone was a member of the mega-group N'Sync.  Or is it In Synch?  Whatever it is, he was in it.  He looks a bit too pudgy to be a boy-band star nowadays, but certainly, his appearance in the film alone will be enough to drive scores of screaming fans to watch him sing one song.

The film itself is kind of a gray comedy, sort of.  It's not quite a black comedy, and it's not really all that funny, but it's obscure and random.  It blends serious stuff with some romantic stuff with some quirky humor.  It's a small movie and it has a nice sense of style.  There's good music and a certain peppy charm.  There's a splash of old Vegas flair and a touch of evil Vegas cynicism. 

Though the premise of a "cooler" in this movie is absurd, it's an interesting idea and it makes for an interesting film.  Though the film is only 101 minutes, it does tend to drag a bit, largely due to over extending a few visual metaphors; the ups and downs of Macy's character's life are  played out on the casino floor in a transparent metaphor.  That's fine the first four times, but after that, you get the idea.

If you love films that deal with casinos, like Ocean's Eleven or 3000 Miles to Graceland or even Casino, you'll find this to be enjoyable.  There's nudity!  There's gambling!  There's a good performance by a Baldwin!  And William H. Macy (the H is for "Hangdog") is schlub-o-riffic!


Expectation from the Title: The story about a man and his insulated beverage container.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Even though William H. Macy looks sad, he has a lot going for him.

The Pros: Good acting, an unusual story premise, nudity.

The Cons: A bit repetitive, some unnecessary characters.  Even though there's an original concept in the film, it falls into standard formula quickly.  Sorvino sings.


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