Like Three Card Monte, Wayne Kramer’s The Cooler is a pointless, money-depleting waste of time to be avoided at all costs. Bernie Lootz (a solid but familiar William H. Macy) is such a loser that he’s hired by a Las Vegas casino run by Shelly Kaplow (a hammy Alec Baldwin) to spread his bad luck around the gambling tables and, in effect, cool off the winning patrons. Bernie, whose awful (and awfully obvious) last name sounds like a cross between “loot” and “lose,” wants to ditch his job, but his plans go awry after meeting Natalie (Maria Bello), a sexy blonde waitress who surprisingly falls for him and, in the process, turns his luck around. The unlikely couple have sweaty sex in which we learn that Macy’s naked derriere is in much better shape than Bello’s, but Bernie’s inability to spread his unlucky influenza to the casino’s patrons soon sends Shelly into a tizzy, especially since he’s trying to prove to investors – who plan to transform the ‘50s-era Shangri-La casino into a modern money-making monstrosity – that the old ways of operating a gambling joint are better and (give me a break!) purer than the new ways. Everyone except Macy overacts, Kramer’s script (written with Frank Hannah) is full of contrived plot twists that are telegraphed five minutes beforehand, and the film’s vision of a grimy, dour Sin City is largely photocopied from Leaving Las Vegas. There’s a misogynistic streak at work in the gratuitous and nasty mistreatment of Natalie, and it’s hard to figure out why we should agree with the film’s dewy-eyed nostalgia for the old Vegas. Who, for example, cares that Shelly’s tacky casino is going to be transformed into a modern palace? Is Joey Fatone (the club’s new *NSYNC-ish lounge singer) really that much worse than Paul Sorvino’s heroin-addicted Rat Pack crooner? The only thing cool about The Cooler is that, after 100 excruciating minutes, it mercifully ends.