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Zero Effect (1998)
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Review Date: August 02, 1998
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writer: Jake Kasdan
Producers: Jake Kasdan, Janet Young, Lisa Henson
Actors:
Bill Pullman
Ben Stiller
Ryan O'Neal
Plot:
The world's most "private" detective Daryl Zero is hired by a rich man named Stark, to find his lost keys to a security box which contains information that could be used against him, and to figure out the identity of the person who is also blackmailing him. Zero's faithful assistant, Arlo, acts as the middleman between the two men, since dick Zero does not believe in meeting his clients. Let the unraveling begin.
Critique:
Quirky, original, but ultimately overlong and not so interesting tale of the self-proclaimed "world's greatest private investigator." Bill Pullman has never really excited me in any of his works (even my favourite film of 1997, LOST HIGHWAY (9/10)), and continues to do his humdrum work in this "trying to be hip" crime film, that never really grabs a hold of anyone or anything. The film's premise is certainly very cute, with the detective not wanting to meet any of his clients, and being some sort of an acutely sensitive psycho-analyst who could tell almost everything about a person after meeting them for only thirty seconds.

But ultimately, the film's plot and execution never really generate enough drama, interest or zing to keep the film enjoyable at any level. It seemed like a quirky film at times, a crime drama at others, and ultimately degenerated into some half-assed romantic crime tale, which didn't seem to know which end was up anymore. There were some original points in the script, and even some clever moments about the detective, his methods and motivations, but not enough to constitute anything close to a successful movie.

Even Ben Stiller seemed wasted in his underplayed role of the assistant who was torn between his love and his job. On top of everything, the film packed it in a little under the two-hour mark, without justifying at least thirty minutes of that lengthy total. In the end, I believe that your enjoyment of this film will be strongly correlated to your appreciation of the work of Bill Pullman, your desire to see experimental films that may quirk your interest, and the unimportance of the money that you are willing to invest in this video pick. If all three traffic lights seem green to you, then please go ahead and watch this movie and try to enjoy your time on board. If your interest is not peaked by my guidelines, then I suggest you go out and rent the ultimate hip, quirky, crime film: RESERVOIR DOGS (9/10), by Quentin Tarantino, and have a blast!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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