The Cooler is a 2003 romantic drama film directed by Wayne Kramer. The original screenplay was written by Kramer and Frank Hannah. In old school gambling parlance, a casino "cooler" is an unlucky individual, usually a casino employee, whose mere presence at the gambling tables usually results in a streak of bad luck for the other players. Unlucky Bernie Lootz (William H. Macy) has little positive going for him: he lives in a dreary studio apartment in a rundown motel staged near the Las Vegas Strip; he can't recall the last time he had physical contact with a woman; he's indebted to the Shangri-La casino boss Shelly Kaplow (Alec Baldwin), who years earlier cured him of a gambling habit by breaking his kneecap. Kaplow had also paid Lootz' casino debts, and Bernie has been working off that debt to Shelly for several years and the debt is nearly paid off. Lootz is weary of the casino business, and tells Kaplow he is leaving Las Vegas soon. His future success as a "cooler" is changed when cocktail waitress Natalie Belisario (Maria Bello) seemingly takes an interest in him, and his luck — and that of those around him — takes a turn for the better.