Okay I’m not busy now.
I hope I never have to see William H. Macy’s pale, narrow-but-jiggly naked boo-tay in a film—or in any other venue—ever again. (My male movie-watching companion shielded his eyes against the offense. He didn’t, however, shield his eyes against the nakedness of the pretty girl. I love men!)
Otherwise, this was an enjoyable take on the stereotypical nerd-gets-the-girl and hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold genres. Weird, yes; quirky, yes, but you come away from it saying, “okay, I liked that strange movie.”
Any turn of Macy’s (Fargo) tends to be an odd one, due to his unconventional looks (for an actor): dull and drab; not ugly, per se, but ordinary, like your doorman. Okay, he’s even more ordinary-looking than that: like a homeless guy. But undoubtedly, such a fantastic actor isn’t homeless.
In The Cooler, Macy plays Bernie Lootz, a gambler’s jinx, who is employed by ruthless, old-school Las Vegas casino owner, Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin). Bernie walks by a craps table and the gambler rolls seven. He walks by a black-jack table and the gambler is busted. Bernie is all kinds of bad luck walking, even for himself. He is frumpy and shabby; his hair is stringy, poorly cut and dirty-looking. He lives a lonely life in a hotel room, in which his sleep is constantly interrupted by patrons in heat, their activities heard through the thin walls while he sleeps alone. He’s a loser.
Then Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello) comes into his life. His “friend,” Shelley, pays Natalie to become Bernie’s girlfriend, and that she does. Skip through the gratuitous sex scenes and suddenly Bernie’s got the world on a string. His pallor disappears. His hair is clean and stylishly coiffed; his suit, modern and well cut. And he smiles, making him moderately attractive.
Unfortunately for Shelley, however, getting Bernie lucky has also reversed his jinx factor. Now he walks by a gambler and, suddenly, the house is busted. Shelley tries to get Natalie to dump Bernie, but Natalie has fallen in love with him and refuses. Ugly, violent hi-jinks ensue.
Alec Baldwin has taken to playing himself of late—slimy, unsavory sorts—and he does it well. Not the handsome, brave Jack Ryan of The Hunt for Red October is he here by a long shot. I had never heard of Maria Bello before, but I was very impressed with her tough/tender role in this good movie.
(Moral commentary: why do people in movies have to have sex *before* they fall in love? /moral commentary)
(Also, I feel uncomfortably like a peeper watching sex scenes in movies, but I’ve always been that way, even before I was up on my moral high-horse. :-)
The ending is gory and good. If you’re like me, you’ll be asking your companion, “what the heck just happened?” Hopefully, your companion is paying better attention than you are.
Three and half (out of five) snaps up.™