|The Cooler (2003)
Starring: William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Maria Bello, Shawn Hatosy, Ron Livingston, Paul Sorvino
Director: Wayne Kramer
William H. Macy's career streak of playing the loser has finally hit the jackpot. In his latest film, Macy once again shows the audience what it is that he's so good at.
Bernie Lootz (Macy) is a valuable employee of The Golden Shangri La, the last of the throwback casinos, where he is the official cooler a man with luck so bad that when a client is on a hot winning streak, Bernie is sent over to cool them down, passing along his own bad luck like a cold and quickly turning any winner into a loser. As Bernie mopes around the casino floors every day and night he builds a friendly relationship with Natalie (Maria Bello), a cocktail waitress whose own conventional Hollywood sad story results in her serving drinks to boisterous high rollers. As the pair falls in love, Bernie's mood brightens and his luck changes for the better, which of course is good news for the Shangri La's clientele.
Shelley (Alec Baldwin), the casino's heartless owner, isn't pleased with Bernie's latest mood swing and its effect on his money. His own problems don't help the situation either, with a young Harvard grad (Ron Livingston) trying to take over and renovate the Shangri La into a Disneyland ride like every other casino on the strip. Shelley holds on dearly to the old days when a baseball bat solved every problem and superstitions like a cooler worked, but even Bernie the best in town has been letting him down recently.
The trio of actors breathes life into a film that could have easily followed the clichd route that most Vegas films take. Instead, Macy's typecast loser is unique and Baldwin's spin as the hard casino manager is a pleasurable addition to the actor's sudden comeback career. A small film about a loser who's only known bad luck, "The Cooler" is a winner in the end.