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Zero Effect (Widescreen/Full Screen)
Zero Effect follows private investigator Daryl Zero and Steve Arlo, his reluctant representative, through one particularly tangled case involving blackmail, murder, revenge, and a set of lost keys. Zero is the world's best private investigator, suave and totally in control while on a case, but socially inept when off the job. The diversely talented and prolific Bill Pullman is excellently cast as Zero, switching seamlessly from one persona to the next, and the ever-charming Ben Stiller is his perfect sidekick. In a deadpan description of his method, or the "Zero Effect," Zero details his brilliance for Sherlock Holmes-like deductions, based on his strict adherence to objectivity and observation, or, in Zero parlance, "the obs." Somewhat predictably the obs falter when the case of the missing keys brings Zero to Gloria Sullivan, a winsome and mysterious paramedic played by Kim Dickens. Thankfully, writer-director Jake Kasdan is no less brilliant than the Zero he creates, and the potential corniness of the developing romance is balanced by a razor-sharp wit and the nail-biting suspense of the unfolding plot. --Laska Jimsen
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Top Customer Reviews
There is so much to love about this movie I hesitate to begin. How about with the dialogue? From the first line, the dialogue is precise, subtle and funny. Someone famous once stressed that subtlety is key to lasting humor, and this script is exemplary; it's as funny the tenth time I watch it as it was the first. For once, we get to laugh at the detective hero, to laugh at his human flaws, as well as marvel at his methods.
Ben Stiller is a master of the human kettle of frustration, and is a great counterpoint to Pullman's various quirks. I didn't like Stiller much before this film, but have since become a staunch fan thanks to his performance here. Kim Dickens was fantastic, as was the role created for her. Detective movies usually feature a femme fatale with much more to her than meets the eye, but Clarissa is one to beat them all. I'll let it stand at that so as not to ruin any of the plot. And Ryan O'Neal rounds out the main cast with a wonderful portrayal of a white-collar criminal.
People accuse me sometimes of taking movies too seriously, but I argue back that my favorites are ones that actually teach me something lasting. As we watch, we solve the mystery along with Daryl Zero, and we learn his methods, similar to reading along to a Sherlock Holmes story (in this case, see "A Scandal in Bohemia").Read more ›
Ben Stiller is quite watchable too though. But for some reason in every scene with him and his girlfriend they are making out. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this. Tho he's actually got a decent character to get his teeth into this time instead of the 'hapless boyfriend' role he always seems to get stuck with.
"Zero Effect"s main problem is that's it's too talky and almost every scene takes place indoors. This adds an unwanted sense of claustrophobia to the film.
Writer/Director Jake Kasdan does have talent and I would like to see him go far in Hollywood. And perhaps even make a sequel to "Zero Effect" but with a bigger budget and a more accessable plotline. It would be a shame to kill of a potentially great franchise because of one rather lame movie.
The DVD is in Dolby 5.1 and is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Daryl Zero is a dysfunctional, neurotic man, who locks himself away in a penthouse behind an insane security system. He drinks Tab by the gallon, overdoses on speed and information, and writes horrible songs in his spare time. Aside from all this, he can tell you what you had for breakfast thirty seconds after meeting you and can solve crimes by dialing one phone number. The man defines the line between genius and madness.
Zero is so ineffective outside of his job that he is forced to use a go-between to negotiate all his business. Playing Dr. Watson to his Sherlock Holmes is Ben Stiller (Reality Bites) as Steve Arlo, a former lawyer who has trouble reconciling his professional life and his private one.
As the story begins, Arlo is discussing his employer with a prospective client, Gregory Stark (Ryan O'Neal). In a series of cuts from this office setting, however, we also see Arlo discussing his boss with a friend. The two discussions counterpoint the duality of Zero's nature. He may be the most brilliant detective who ever lived, but it is obvious the man is also a raging lunatic.
Stark has sought Zero's help to recover his missing keys, lost now for a year. Those keys, he believes, have fallen into the hands of the person blackmailing him. One of the keys was to a safety deposit box, but he will not tell Zero what was in the safety deposit box or why he believes the person is blackmailing him. Just one more mystery for Zero to uncover.Read more ›
Also, it is interesting from a visual standpoint, which lends credibility to Sherlock's quote (from yet another story) that "Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms," considering Jake Kasdan's paternity. In this case, it might be better to amend the quote to "Art in the blood can't help but reveal itself." It's a pretty looking film, and the camera is in the hands of someone who understands how to use it as a narrative device.
Even those who haven't read every Sherlock Holmes story available will possibly like this, because I think most people like to watch stories about really, really smart people who figure stuff out . . . particularly when those smart people have a difficult time keeping themselves together, despite their intelligence.
The comparison to Sherlock Holmes wouldn't be quite complete without pointing out that this movie is very sequel-worthy ... and I hope that its makers finally arrive at the same conclusion.
Most recent customer reviews
A near perfect noirish film. Fantastic writing, directing and acting from whole cast. A must see.Published 16 months ago by C. LeGrow
Ingenious plot in times of so many remakes. Different, enjoyable. Setting the crime did not require noise, blood and cursing.Published on Aug. 24 2013 by E. Marsh
The name says it all doesn't it. It had Zero Effect on me and my two buddies who watched it with me. I hope Ben stiller and Bill Pullman gave what they earned to charity. Read morePublished on Feb. 4 2004
Yes, it's quirky and offbeat. The characterizations are well-done (I really enjoyed Stiller's portrayal of the "sidekick"). Read morePublished on Sept. 15 2003 by Robert J. Ellison
Humor, suspence, wit ,plot,actors, I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!
It just sparkles. You just can't go wrong with this movie!
Your first intro to the mysterious Mr. Read more
I liked this movie and if you like offbeat, but good films, you will too.Published on June 24 2003 by Michael Chesser
If you have ever read about Sherlock Holmes you will recognize him in Darel Zero. Extremely observant and intelligent man who is lacking social graces and therefore requires a... Read morePublished on May 24 2002 by infatuationjunkie
Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) is the greatest private investigator in the world, but he's an eccentric mess when he's not working. Read morePublished on March 26 2002
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