Zero Effect

on January 30, 1998 by Christine James
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   With deductive abilities and an encyclopedic knowledge of Sherlock Holmes caliber, Zero is quickly able to uncover an abundance of information and clues--in fact, more than his not-so-clean-handed client wished. Pullman is wonderfully subtle in exposing each new twist and turn with relish and aplomb. There's a method to his madness, and watching it unfold is a delight. And Stiller, the archetype of exasperation, is fantastic as the intelligent, sarcastic, perennially put-upon right-hand man who's simultaneously frustrated with and in awe of his mysterious mentor.
   The wryly intelligent, creative script serves the story, the characters and the actors well, never disappointing in ingenuity or opportunities for uncanny comic timing.    Starring Bill Pullman, Ben Stiller Ryan O'Neal and Kim Dickens. Written and directed by Jake Kasdan. Produced by Lisa Henson and Janet Yang. A Columbia release. Rated R for language. Running time: 151 min.   This sharp, original, unflaggingly hilarious debut from 22-year-old writer/director Jake Kasdan (son of Lawrence) is an incredible comic showcase for both Bill Pullman, as the highly eccentric and dysfunctional but brilliant detective Daryl Zero, and Ben Stiller, who plays Steve Arlo, Zero's beleaguered assistant. Because Zero is a paranoid recluse, Arlo must front all business dealings. Usually Zero, with his savant-like photographic memory and elaborate computer research system, can solve most cases without setting foot outside his vault of an apartment. So Arlo is understandably surprised when Zero agrees to fly to Oregon to investigate the case of a timber tycoon (Ryan O'Neal) who's being blackmailed.
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