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 MaskedReviewer.com. 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
Maria Bello plays Macy's love interest. In addition to playing
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.