Nov. 30, 2022

Midweek Mention... Zero Effect

Midweek Mention... Zero Effect
Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
Stitcher podcast player badge
iHeartRadio podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
Castbox podcast player badge
Podchaser podcast player badge
TuneIn podcast player badge
Deezer podcast player badge
YouTube podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

ZERO EFFECT takes the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story "A Scandal in Bohemia" and updates it in a 1998 comedy slash mystery from Jake Kasdan which Sidey loves and I had never seen before. Bill Pullman is tortured soul Daryl Zero; the world's greatest private investigator and a recluse who will only be represented in public by his long-suffering assistant Arlo (Ben Stiller). Together, Zero and Arlo have solved some of the world's most bewildering criminal cases, including The Case Of The Man With Mismatched Shoelaces and The Case of the Hired Gun Who Made Too Many Mistakes. When wealthy businessman Gregory Stark (Ryan O Neal) hires the duo to find missing keys to a safety deposit box, Zero uncovers a secret involving Gloria Sullivan (Kim Dickens), a paramedic with a mysterious past, whilst also finding himself slowly falling in love with her.

Both the Downey Jr. SHERLOCK movies left me cold and beyond KNIVES OUT I would be hard pressed to name anything in this genre that's raised even a semi out of me recently so I'm probably not the best to review this because beyond the excellent opening 40 minutes where we are introduced to Zero and his world, I found the movie to be meandering and sometimes predictable during the actual mystery. A huge lack of chemistry between Pullman and Dickens doesn't help and the ending seems somehow both abrupt and overly long at the same time though Sidey will point to all the stuff that's good about it: the off kilter neo-noir aspects, Bill Pullman's magnetic performance, the pulpy mystery and surprising denouement so if you are a fan of the Sherlock Holmes mythos or the crime mystery genre and haven't seen this, you should absolutely check it out.   

We love to hear from our listeners! By which I mean we tolerate it. If it hasn't been completely destroyed yet you can usually find us on twitter @dads_film, on Facebook Bad Dads Film Review, on email at or on our website

Until next time, we remain...

Bad Dads


Zero Effect

Reegs: Side. You chose this week's midweek mention for us.

Sidey: I

Reegs: And it was,

Sidey: it was zero effect. And it's cropped up a couple of times recently.

Dan: it's

cropped up in about 20 minutes. No, what, about two hours ago when

Sidey: when we chat about it, but didn't press record. Yeah. It's cropped up in the top five.

I picked it. And I also, I think vsy or maybe Darren eat a weapon four. Picked it. Someone did. So I wanted to revisit it to see if it's as good as I remember.

Reegs: So this is a 1998 comedy film of which I had no knowledge of, but it's written and directed by Jake Kasan.

Sidey: Yeah.

Reegs: Son of Lawrence.

Sidey: Yes. Who did And by strike

Reegs: Empire Strikes Back. Yeah.

Sidey: Which is a decent movie. It's not all that bad. And this movie is effectively it's Inspired by, or just a complete remake of the Sherlock Holmes story of a scandal in Belgravia.

Reegs: That sort of reinterpretation. Yeah. With Bill Pullman as Darl Zero and Ben Stiller playing it almost completely straight the whole way through as his Watson character, Arlo, and this is where we start with Ben Stiller trying to win a new client.

Making him sound all nice and perfect and talking about how brilliant he is, but also intertwined with scenes of him talking in a bar about how awful he is.

Sidey: Yeah. About how he He writes music, but it's dreadful. He is just like dirty, disheveled, and a mess, and a recluse and, you

Reegs: know, he calls him a recluse.

Yeah. Not a recluse.

Sidey: And we do eventually meet him after we've seen. Ben Stiller, Steve Arlow.


Reegs: he'll only be represented through Arlo in public talking to a character that we'll get to in a bit called Gregory Stark, this new client,

Sidey: Yeah. Played by Ryan O'Neill. Yeah.

Yeah. He's he's good in this and yeah, then he does go back. He's, he basically has to report his findings back to Darrell Zero. About what the case is, about, what the guy wants, what the problem is, blah, blah, blah. And as soon as he mentions the guy's name, Dar zero knows fucking everything about his family history.

Oh, it's old money. You know, they did this, they did that, blah, blah, blah. You know? You know, he knows

Reegs: oh, but we didn't talk about his place, how he gets into it through the massive

Sidey: Yeah. When he lives in the penthouse and we see him in the elevator and he presses the penthouse button and there's fucking million floors and he goes up and then, It's got this almost like a fucking super villain style doors that form a Z in these metal kind of contraption.

And then he is got six or seven locks that he has to unlock, press a code, lock them back up, press another code, and fucking rigmarole. Yeah. But obviously

Reegs: and when we meet him, he is just playing these dreadful songs on and he's been up for three days straight drinking nothing but Pepsi tab and is that what,

Sidey: Juna straight from a can.

Reegs: Yeah. And taking amphetamines.

Sidey: Yeah. Which I guess is all show at home stuff cuz he was a opiate addict, wasn't he? Yeah. But

Reegs: together these guys have have solved some of the world's most incredible, you know, criminal cases. So he, the case of the man with mismatched shoelaces, the case of the hire gun who made too many mistakes.

So, they are a, a killer team.

Sidey: Yeah. And it's obviously, he, he not able to deliver the message by telephone or by email or whatever. He has to go and tell Darzi these things face to face. He doesn't trust anything, which was, is a recurring kind of jokey thing that goes on throughout the movie.

Reegs: Yeah. So, as you say this case has been, they've been approached by this millionaire businessman, Gregory Stark and Stark has been blackmailed.

He's, he propositions it as he's lost the keys to a, a safety deposit box, and he's contacted zero to find them, but zero pretty quickly finds the keys. They were lost in his office down the sofa.

Sidey: Yeah. And so that becomes just a coincidental thing, and there's something else that at play which actually in the movie itself, It doesn't take that long to resolve who the Blackmailer is.

No, it's the motives and what's, you know, kicked it all off. That is the, the real mystery. So what, what's happening is Dar zero's, I dunno, is he coming to the end of his career or whatever it is, but he's decided that he needs to document his process.

Reegs: He's writing

his autobiography.

Sidey: Yeah. And why, and why he's the best detective in the world.

He, he really is not very humble about all this sort of stuff. He was hoping that Arlo was gonna do it, but he showed no interest. So he's sitting down to document it and, and the first thing that he mentions is about how you have to be able to observe and not, not just watch people, but properly observe.

And so the first thing that we see him do is, is go to the gym where Gregory's Stark works out.


quite like this scene because it shows. You know how you can wean information outta people. And he, he actually says it not by communication, but by, you know, behavioral stuff gives it all away.

And he, he sets his treadmill up to be going at the same speed as him and says, oh, what are you doing in level eight? And he's like, oh, no, no, no, it's a seven, but it's obviously a four or something like that, you know, but he, he's, he's too arrogant to admit that someone's doing something better than him.

And then he, he drops into conversation about what college he went to, his family, you know, what. Yeah.

Reegs: Businesses. Well, and also zero's got like an encyclopedic knowledge of absolutely everything.

So when there's and it comes up time and time again. So when they're having a conversation, they're having a conversation about sports and he overheats it and they say, when did the last time that basketball won with the slow line? He's like, oh, the 76. Whatevers The Celtics. The Celtics, yeah. So he can, and he's demonstrates time and time again this like knowledge of really obscure stuff, not just sports.

Sidey: While he's there, he tries to book an appointment with the masseuse that Stark uses every day. And the lady says, no. He, she's, she has a recurring daily appointment at 10, but I could fit you in at nine.

And there's a lady behind him who says, oh, I wanted that slot, but don't worry, you got there first. You take it.

And they have a little interaction and then she's gone out the door before he's able to catch her name. But the lady who's the receptionist there says, oh, there, that's Gloria.

She's not married.

And it's like, oh, okay. It gets a bit flustered. Why would I? But we see her again in the not too distant future.

Reegs: Yeah.

Sidey: Because there's been. Blackmail ran some notes. And Arlo says I've told him to go through with the dropoff. You know, he has to do everything. We don't want to tip off the, the blackmailer,

Reegs: and they have to, and the black mailer is asking them to do, follow an increasingly elaborate series of steps to, to go and take the money.

actually. Yeah.

Sidey: Mm-hmm. something like when the odometer on the bus, no, on your car reads, you know, X number, then the beeper will go and you'll have to do this and catch this bus and get off here and blah, blah, blah. And it goes on forever. I always think it doesn't matter how elaborate is the last bit.

Yeah. If you stayed and watched, you would . You would still be able to find out, you know? Yeah. But anyway.

Reegs: Well, that is his plan basically, isn't it? Also he's got Arlo Still's character flying all over the country to meet him. At one point he meets him in an airport, phones him to give him some information, bec and then sends him straight back on another plane, and he's calling him from a booth about two phones down.

So it shows his sort of zany operations,

Sidey: But at the, at the money drop off from the latest blackmail he's instructed to leave the money in the last toilet store. There's a bag in the system, basically puts it in there, then immediately set off the.

Fire alarm and you've got three minutes to do all this. So there's someone in, there's like bang on the door for them to get out, and then they, they do that. And Dar zero is just waiting. And my Mr say they would've fucking turfed him out while, you know, while the alarm was going off for something.

He's just stood, you know, in the foyer just watching everyone and is just emergency services. But we see Gloria come in.

Reegs: well she's, we, we, we learned before that she was a paramedic. In fact zero had guessed it cuz he'd smelled something on her.

Sidey: on earth. Yeah. And so we, we know, like he just looks at the bag that she carries through.

We know that she's now the black mailer. But it's all about finding out what her story is.

Reegs: Yeah. And her story is a convoluted one with a few twists and turns.

Sidey: he keeps going back to the gym zero to, to observe some more.

Reegs: mm-hmm.

Sidey: But he does have more interactions with Gloria. Yeah. And his cover story is that he's an accountant. She says, oh, he must be in for that conference.

Yes. And he kind of has to go with it. Yeah. And the next time she sees him, she's like, I wanna ask you something. And he gets all flustered again and she's like, could you do my tax return? And he's like, okay. And I think, I don't know when, cuz when you get to the end of the film, I think right from the start she knew Yeah.

Who he was. Or she knew that he wasn't who he said he was, at

Reegs: It's a test. Yeah.

Sidey: Cause she gets him back to her plays. Sits him down and, and asks him about, is it like the corroding, some sort of, you know, weird chemical deduction to do with tax. And he pauses for a little while and then he, he goes on to explain it in great detail.

Cause he knows fucking everything in the world about everything. So he passes this test, but I still don't think she fell for it.

Reegs: No, but she's fact checking

Sidey: but she's like, at least you can do my tax return for me.

Reegs: Yeah. It's a, it is a pretty crazy scene really, because like in the reality of the movie, she's just met this guy. She invites him back to his, her place, says, can you do my taxes?

And then goes for a nap. And then when she gets up from our app and they have this little cat and mouse type exchange, she's like, oh, I'm just gonna go and have a shower. And that's when he roots around in her apartment and finds a photo.

Sidey: Of Craig

Reegs: initials kv and he's been looking for these initials.

Sidey: Yeah, it was on the ransom note. Stay away from kv. Yeah. And they find out from her apartment that KV stands for Craig and Vincent.

And they follow her and find her pushing this guy around in a wheelchair. He's dying it seems.

Reegs: Was it Vincent and Cassel? Was he the No,

Sidey: No, I don't think so.


and Vincent, he was played by a guy called Matt Oto. Or mot

Reegs: Can't remember Matt

after all that.

Sidey: Dow Zero has found the missing safety deposit box key. He's able to go to the bank and find out what is, what is it that's in the safety deposit box. And that is a tape recording of ordering the hit.

Reegs: Yes.

Sidey: And so they go to the murder scene and they're trying to figure out what's, what has gone down, like what are the missing pieces of this story?

And it goes through some conflict of stuff about the size of the bed would've been different back in the day. And somehow a guy's gone in, done a hit and then left his fingerprints. Like a professional guy is gone in, he is done the thing that he was supposed to do, but then he is left. His fingerprints like absolutely fucking everywhere.

Reegs: Yeah.

Sidey: And after a bit of digging, when things start to fall into place, what they figure out is that Gloria Gloria's mother had been raped

by Gregory

Stark. He's not a nice guy, as it turns out, after all of this. Yeah. And to hide the fact. And there's a thing about can a, can a human be evidence?

Yeah. As in the baby be evidence of the rape and the, the stuff that's gone.

 Stark has ordered the hit on her and, and the mother has been killed. And then after the, the hit has taken place, he's had the baby crying. And so he is decided to give it all up and to save the baby, not leave the baby there with the dead body and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Reegs: And his sister, the hitman sister has brought her up. Gloria. Yeah. And it's not, I don't know what point she's discovered all this about her life, but she has at some point, because obviously she's the one who's been blackmailing.

Sidey: Yes. Yes. And she seems like remarkably okay with this guy having killed her mother cuz she's pushing him around in a wheelchair wise.

And, you know, convalescing. I just thought it was weird.

Reegs: She's also figured out that, I mean, definitely figured out and tells zero how she's figured out that he's not Nick the, the accountant, because he didn't take the receipts when they went for. So she's well ahead now.

Even if the absolute super genius Detective Darrell Zero.

Sidey: there's a, the culmination where

the, the blackmailing becomes more frequent.

And the notes more. How do they describe it in the film? Desperate. More Desperate? Yeah. He says that. And so they go through with one more. But this time Gregory Stark hangs around and does do the thing that he could always do is find out, yeah, the last piece of the,

Reegs: he's supposed to leave on the same bus that he came in on or something, but he doesn't, he waits around and goes into a planetarium.

Yeah. And they're all in there including Bill Pullman, I think in his most ridiculous disguise at this point. He's had a few throughout the

Sidey: me. Yeah. Yes.

Reegs: Oh no, because there's still the waiter at the end.

Oh yeah.

Right at the very end. But,

Sidey: yeah, at one point he looks like Oh man. Easy Rider, kind of

Reegs: Dennis Harpo.

Yeah. Yeah.

Sidey: looks quite good. But he has a heart attack.

Old Stark. Yeah. And Gloria is left with this conundrum of does she, because she is a health professional, you know, does she save the guy who she knows is a complete scumbag? Or does she fucking let him die? But you know, she's better than that and she does help him out.



Reegs: then flee flies off.

Sidey: does after to run, not before making a phone call back home where Darzi is waiting in her apartment. And they go through a thing about he says, look, there's a man behind you. And she kind of like, oh, Don Worry's there to help you. He's got some documentation and fake IDs and money for you.

You need to just stay on the run now cuz they're gonna. Trying to get you for this. So, you know, just use cash. Go wherever, but lie about everything. Don't leave a trail about all that sort of stuff. And she says, well, why, why couldn't you be here to gimme that? And he says, well, I knew you'd be there, but I hoped you'd be here.

And I quite like, I quite like that bit. It was, it was nice. I don't think you were quite sold on the, on that bit.

Well, certainly the second half of the

Reegs: Yeah. Yeah. No, I, it's a, it is a strong opening. Have we finished off? We sort of missed the whole bit with Arlo, cuz he does drift out of the movie a bit, but he's being his wi not wife, his girlfriend wants him to quit the, the business of being Zeros assistance.

And he does actually at the end of the movie,

Sidey: Yeah. He, he says he's sick of working for the Starks of the world, which I guess would definitely get you down. And he says, you know, these rich guys just paying their way out of all their fucking horrible shit that they've done.

And yeah, that certainly would be a difficult one to reconcile with yourself, I think.

Reegs: But Zero has assisted a blackmail on leaving the country really as well. So

Sidey: True, true that, yeah,

Reegs: Moral

Sidey: But she does end the phone call by Because Darrow Zero throughout the movie has only ever used aliases.

And he is got all these fake IDs with ridiculous photos in them of his different hairstyles and stuff. And she calls him Darrow zero. And she's like, what? And she just hangs up and leaves it and, you know, are they ever gonna reconnect? We don't know.

Reegs: She was one step ahead. He's passion for her. Got the way of his An analytical

Sidey: Passion is the enemy of precision. Yeah. He says,

So I really, I still enjoy this. This is, I dunno, third or fourth time that I've seen it. I used to have it on vhs actually. I liked it so much. So yeah, this was still a hit for me. I enjoyed.

Reegs: Yeah, the first half an hour, 40 minutes, I really enjoyed the introduction to the world. And then the mystery didn't, I don't know if this genre maybe is not for me particularly, cuz I don't really, I never really get on with the Sherlock Holmes movies or anything like that.

And this is obviously a sort of Naish updating of that. Pullman's pretty good. Yeah, it's, it's.

Sidey: Well, audiences seem to agree with the rigs cuz the budget for it was five mil and it only did just a me or 2 million at the box office. So people weren't queue around the block to go and see this.

But I, I still would recommend it to people. I really enjoyed it. I think Dan would get a

Reegs: would have it. Yeah, Dan would've liked this one.

Dan: Yeah, it sounds decent. I'm gonna probably get round to watch it. Where do you go to watch this?

Sidey: It's a rental on Amazon.

Dan: Right. Okay. Cause it, it was, I was just looking. It's one he did just before. Something about.

Sidey: Yeah. It's a pretty much a straight roll stiller in this. Yeah. And the movie just breezed by. It's not, it doesn't overstep. It's welcome. It's, it's like a 90 odd minute, you know, run time.

Reegs: No, it's near two hours.

Sidey: Is it really? Yeah. Oh man. It flew by from

Dan: me. It flew by

Reegs: 15 minutes too long as well.

Sidey: Interesting. Maybe you should watch it down and give a casting vote.

Reegs: Yeah,

Dan: I will. I'll check this one out. It, it does sound up my street and yeah, maybe a little more time next week and I'll give it a whirl.