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The Cooler

What do Magnolia's Quiz Kid Donnie Smith, Fargo's Jerry Lundegaard, and Boogie Nights's Little Bill have in common, other than the obvious fact that they're all portrayed by William H. Macy? Answer: They're all losers. William H. Macy has made a career out of being the loser, but in his latest vehicle, The Cooler, things seem to be turning around for the poor, lovable guy.

Macy plays Bernie Lootz, a guy whose luck is so cold that casino boss Shelly Kaplow (a phenomenal Alec Baldwin) employs him as a "cooler". A cooler seeks out hot tables and turns the luck back towards the house. Bernie's life sucks, that is, until sprite-like cocktail waitress Natalie (Maria Bello) shows an interest in him.

The Cooler is a good, fun film, one that's easy enough to buy into because you want it to happen, you want desperately to see Bernie's luck turn; even if you don't want to see a naked Bernie help Natalie to achieve orgasm, which you do. Semi-creepy. Oh well. Rookie director Wayne Kramer has done a fine job, even if he hasn't quite found a style to keep his film on an even keel.