Eccentric and reclusive DARYL ZERO is a kind of private eye idiot savant, not to mention a drug addict and amateur musician prone to disguises, bizarre personal behavior and outrageous leaps in deduction (sound familiar?) in Zero Effect, a quirky 1998 film written and directed by Jake Kasdan.
In the publicity for the flick, Daryl is touted as "The World's Most Private Detective," but that's only scratching the surface. Make no mistake -- the guy, as played by Bill Pullman, is a total whackjob.
Playing Dr. Watson to Zero's Sherlock Holmes is sardonic partner and front man, STEVE ARLO (a perfectly cast Ben Stiller) a man with plenty of his own problems, but Zero's galloping paranoia really hops over the fence and his usually sharp mind lights out for the territories when he finds himself falling in love with a beautiful paramedic with a mysterious past who's more than his match (to Zero, she'll always be THE woman). His increasingly tortured relationship with Steve and his first romantic involvement serve to distract him, when he and Steve are hired by a blackmail victim to find his lost keys.
Zero Effect was the first feature film by Jake Kasdan, the son of big shot film director Lawrence Kasdan (Body Heat, The Big Chill, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Silverado). A fun flick, with more than a few pointed echoes of Arthur Conan Doyle's A Scandal in Bohemia.
Not hard-boiled, but quite entertaining. When I first reviewed this film, I mentioned that I'd love to see these characters again. And it looks like I had my chance, and blew it.
There was even a television pilot that apparently aired in 2002 on NBC, althoughI only found out about it years later. It starred Alan Cummings in the title role, althought there was no "Arlo" this time out. There was, however, a character called Jeff (played by David Julian Hirsh) whom I assume was the fill-in for Arlo. I certainly hope so -- a whackjob like Zero certainly needs a straight man. Alas, it was all for naught, because ultimately, NBC chose not to pick up the series.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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