Critic Reviews



Based on 36 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
Wayne Kramer's sexy and often humorous feature directorial debut surrounds its sweet center with the energy, flash and risk of the gambling capital. Sterling performances by William H. Macy and Maria Bello as the long-shot lovers and Alec Baldwin as a temperamental casino operator.
A refreshing throwback to another era of moviemaking: This movie was poured from the bottle, not one of those bar regulator machines. It's got the kick, style and flavor of a straight-up story, before movies were watered down with the opinions of marketers, lawyers and committee heads.
Wayne Kramer, who co-wrote the scrappy script with Frank Hannah, makes a potent directing debut and strikes gold with the cast.
Director Wayne Kramer and co-writer Frank Hannah pull off a sleight-of-hand trick here, playing a gritty surface reality against dark Vegas mythology and getting away with it through a combination of shrewd, witty characterization and sure-footed storytelling skills.
Driving the plot, Baldwin gives an inexorable, career-marking performance.
The best part of the film, unsurprisingly, is William H. Macy's low-key portrayal of Bernie.
Entertainment Weekly
A lot of fun early in the evening, when the Rat Pack ambiance is novel, but gets bleary by 4 a.m. in the story.
Film Threat
Has the intangible and distinctive feel of a movie from a different era. Which just adds to this fine film's mystique, providing yet another reason why The Cooler hits the jackpot.
Luckily this picture is rescued from cliché by the quality of the acting, and Mr. Kramer wisely gives the actors room to work.
Village Voice
First-timer Wayne Kramer brings pathos to Bernie and Shelly's fraught relationship, but his film never amounts to more than a cute idea stretched to poker-chip thinness.

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