WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A loser in life, love and everything else, works for a Las Vegas casino as a “cooler” – a man sent in to cool the luck of some players on hot streaks. Until one fine day, the man falls in love, his luck begins to change and so does everyone else’s. Of course, it leaves one man pretty goddamn pissed off. That man is Alec Baldwin and he plays Macy’s boss. Lots of broken bones and loving moments follow…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I’m usually an easy sell for films set in casino locales. SWINGERS, HARD EIGHT and CROUPIER are just a few that have really impressed me in recent years. SNAKE EYES and REINDEER GAMES have not. You can throw THE COOLER into that first category. There is the sweet and believable love story for the gals and some occasional fisticuffs for the gents in here. And for those of us who didn’t get enough of Baldwin being "king prick" in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS...we’re also well rewarded. Baldwin plays an "old school" head of a casino that doesn’t want to let go of the nostalgia and violent measures of the old days. Baldwin always manages to be entertaining in these smaller roles and his Oscar-nominated turn in this movie is a prime example. His voice, his steely stare and the good old-fashioned "Baldwin shout" is all you need to see and hear to know that your bucks weren't wasted. I’ve always been an avid supporter of this fine actor and man, so hopefully this gets our favorite hard-ass (and Baldwin) back on track!
Macy, having played a loser a few times before, does another perfect job here, getting us on his side right off the bat. The third party, the love in his life, Mario Bello also convinces us well as a waitress looking for a soul on which to hang on. So, the story is original, the acting and actors are all top quality and if that weren’t enough, my favorite office slacker from OFFICE SPACE, and aforementioned swinger, Ron Livingston joins the festivities as one of the new “advisors” getting on Baldwin’s nerves. Sounds like a great weekend rental to me. I guess the only low points were the score (I hate the sax!!) and the all-too-perfect ending. But hey, I still enjoyed the quick pace, inspired storyline and yes, that good old-fashioned idea that love does, in fact, conquer all. Aaaaaaaaaaw....
Audio Commentary with Wayne Kramer, Frank Hannah and James Whitaker: The director, co-writer and cinematographer respectively, have a very fun, informative and enjoyable discussion about the film. If you liked the movie, I guarantee you will not be able to resist this commentary track. They have a great time with it and for just that reason, you will too…
Audio Commentary with Wayne Kramer and Composer Mark Isham: Less electric than track #1, but decent nonetheless, this commentary will provide you with even more goods, with the music being the main topic of discussion. If you enjoyed the jazzy score, then tune into this.
Anatomy of a Scene (approx. 21 min.): This is a production done originally by and for the Sundance Channel. If you’re into watching a lot of DVD extras, you’ve probably come across a few of these before. They basically dissect everything from location to costume design to acting and cinematography. They generally pick one scene in a movie and focus on that, but in this case, it’s more of a sequence. This is a good way to see how the filmmakers get to inwardly and outwardly get the audience invested in a scene and its characters.
Storyboard Comparisons: See how a final scene in the film turned out in comparison to the way they had drawn it out on storyboards. These are usually borderline interesting.
If you just want sugar and spice in your love stories this weekend, than rent LOVE ACTUALLY, it’ll do the job just fine. If, on the other hand, you want a little taste of hard reality to go along with your love story, than I predict THE COOLER will please both your heart and your mind. You have some solid acting, solid story, solid Baldwin and some solid DVD extras. Solid rental, folks…