Saturday, May 5, 2012

20/50x2: The Cooler

I first heard of this film when working at a Blockbuster Video during my final years of college. I saw the cover when it was first released and thought it might be a fun watch. Plus, some of my co-workers had seen it and recommended it.

The second time I heard of it was while watching This Film is Not Yet Rated and they talked about the sex scene within the film - that apparently would have given it an NC-17 rating instead of R.

Well, it has been nine years since its release in the theater and another few since I saw This Film is Not Yet Rated and I just got around to watching The Cooler. Thankfully I added it to this 50 list and made myself watch, or who knows if I ever would have. That is why I truly love doing these lists.

The film follows Bernie Lootz (William H. Macey) who is a lovable loser working for a casino in Las Vegas. He is the epitome of bad luck. He works for the owner of the casino, Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), who years before broke Lootz's kneecap and "cured" his gambling habit. Now, Lootz feels in debt to Shelly and  stays on at the casino as its cooler.

A cooler is someone who, no matter how little contact, is able to walk near a table or gambler that is hot (or winning a lot) and immediately cool them or the table down. Casinos use coolers to always make sure that they are winning more than the player.

Lootz, though, has finally decided to leave the casino and Shelly will do everything possible for that not to happen. Shelly is also going through a bit of issues himself, as he has become a bit of a dinosaur in terms of casinos in Vegas and enjoys his old school ways. But, advisers including Larry Sokolov (Ron Livingston) have been on Shelly into updating the casino and taking it more mainstream.

In order to keep Lootz around, Shelly forces Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello), a waitress at the casino, to make a move on him and give him a reason to stay around.

The move, though, backfires on Shelly as Natalie and Lootz actually do fall in love and with a little change and happiness in his life, Lootz is no longer that great a cooler - in fact people actually begin winning around him.

But, things aren't that easy for Lootz and Natalie, especially after Shelly lets it slip that he hired her to fall in love with him, and when Lootz's deadbeat son, Mikey (Shawn Hatosy) shows up looking for money with his pregnant girlfriend.

The movie was pretty great. Macey has always played the lovable loser role well and Baldwin continues to play strong characters. I also enjoyed Bello in her role as the conflicted waitress, doing what she was told but actually falling for Macey's character.

The scene that would have turned this into an NC-17 film was also rather tame. Anything that was supposed to be out of the ordinary is just normal - and whatever horny guys may have wanted to see is immediately erased when we get to see Macey's wrinkly ass.


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