Comfortable and Furious

Zero Effect

Written and Directed by Jake Kasdan

– Bill Pullman as Daryl Zero
– Ben Stiller as Steve Arlo
– Kim Dickens as Gloria

– Ryan O’Neil as Gregory Stark

Erich likes the mystery stuff

It has come to my attention that at least one Hollywood bigshot, celebrity type read one of my reviews and was got all pissy. I won’t say who it was, other than to say that he or she is involved with Zero Effect in an important way.

So, my first reaction was to ask, doesn’t this person realize that the people who write for this site are just frustrated creative types who are lashing out because we aren’t where he or she is? Fuck, let’s trade. I’ll get paid several million dollars to make movies and he or she can make fun of me. I have written one script and, believe me, it deserves ridicule, but if someone wants to buy it for seven, or even six figures, I’ll live with the public humiliation. Jerry Bruckheimer can even produce it.

Assuming that the person in question or any other people in the industry who might read the site aren’t willing to trade places with me, here’s a secondary point. Team Ruthless are not quote whores. Well, we are in the sense that we will trade positive reviews for cash. Maybe it is more accurate to say that we aren’t quote sluts. We ain’t giving away free milk. So yeah, we’ll make fun of you for flopping. But when you do well, we will sing your praises. Think about it. When you see your work praised on the pages of Rolling Stone what does it mean? That guy names the best film of the year three times an issue. But when we at Ruthless like your stuff, it means something. And let’s face it, you’re probably surrounded by sycophants who are constantly telling you that you are the reincarnation of Orson Welles, so meaningful praise is hard to come by.

So while the film that resulted in this digression is still mediocre and boring, the person in question can cheer up because Zero Effect is fucking dope, and this isn’t coming from someone who liked Collateral Damage ; this is coming from someone who’s mantra is, “Jerry Bruckheimer fucks pigs.”

There are several reasons that I like Zero Effect so much that I am considering buying it. The primary one is that I love the Sherlock Holmes stories and this is kind of a riff on/deconstruction of those. See, when you read Conan Doyle’s stories, you imagine Sherlock as a sleek, slick, elegant man. But when you take a step back and actually put the facts about the character together, as Kasdan has done, you get a fucking weirdo. Sherlock, like Daryl Zero is a cokehead, something of a recluse and a man so focused on his work that he is oblivious to everything else. Sherlock didn’t know that the earth revolved around the sun. Daryl thinks that WW2 is a tax form.

Kasdan also takes things further by having a bit of fun at the Detective’s expense. He makes Zero a horrible, horrible musician, for example, and has Zero give his cases ridiculously awkward names. Like Holmes, Zero is a wizard of a detective. This aspect is reduced to absurdity (if it wasn’t already in the original stories) by Zero’s ability to infer nearly everything about a person upon meeting him.

The comedic aspect of the film is strong then, especially if you’ve read the original stories. Bill Pullman is as responsible for the humor as Kasdan’s sharp writing. Pullman is handsome and good at acting like he is acting suave, but maintains the creepy weirdness that makes the character so interesting at all times. Pullman is so good, that it’s hard to imagine anybody else in the role. Who else would gave the right combination of handsomeness and goofiness? Maybe Jeff Daniels, but that’s about it.

The mystery story is equally strong, as Zero unravels a genuinely interesting, surprising and involving case. He meets something approaching his match in a woman who he falls for, which also happened to Sherlock in one of the original stories. My books are all packed in boxes, so I can’t look the name of the particular story, but this film works from it’s inspirational text much more effectively than other movies that attempt to work from classics, like Ten Things I Hate About You and Clueless. It’s clever, well put together and acted and entertaining. I’m off to Amazon to see how much this DVD is.

Ruthless Ratings:

  • Film Overall: 8
  • Direction: 7
  • Story: 8
  • Acting: 8
  • Rewatchability: 7

Special Ruthless Ratings:

  • Number of times the movie was paused to do something else: 1
  • Number of times the oppressive soundtrack made you reach for your knife: 2 (the score is pretty good, but there were a couple of lame ass “alternative” songs that shouldn’t have been there)
  • Odds that the person who was mad about the other review will read this one and get you a job as a writer for some TV show or something, just to show that there are no hard feelings: 1/1,500