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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