Zero Effect - Movie Synopsis & Plot
Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman), private detective, has taken the 20th century artform of complete detachment to its zenith. He is a mysterious man who maintains no personal connections, no foolish passions, no . . . well, no real life to speak of. He has only his work - and his sharply-honed powers of impartial observation have sealed his rep as the world's most effective criminal investigator.
So removed from the world is Daryl Zero that he conducts his business through a front-man, Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller), a smooth-talking young attorney who hides Zero's neuroses and numbed, reclusive lifestyle from their sophisticated, high-paying clients. If Daryl Zero is a man with no life to speak of, Steve Arlo is a man with no life of his own, a man who lives through the glory and genius of his otherwise annoyingly arrogant and socially inept boss.
Together, Zero and Arlo have solved some of the world's most stultifying criminal cases, including The Case Of The Man With Mismatched Shoelaces and The Case of the Hired Gun Who Made Too Many Mistakes. But now they may face their most challenging case yet: the case of taciturn Portland timber tycoon Gregory Stark (Ryan O'Neal) who has lost his keys. Stark has lost the keys to a safety deposit box and he has contracted Zero to find them. He won't reveal or provide any clues as to the contents or answer as to why he is being blackmailed.
The case is right up Daryl's alley-calling for his trademark ability to dispassionately ferret out the details criminals leave behind. But one thing stands in Daryl's way- something he has never encountered before. An attachment. Of the female kind. As the investigation gets under way, Daryl finds himself drawn to an intriguing paramedic (Kim Dickens) who makes his heart do dangerous stops and starts. How will Daryl function when he begins to feel things about what he's observing? Will Steve Arlo find the courage to declare his independence? And where the heck are those keys?
ZERO EFFECT, a classic murder mystery with a comically dysfunctional detective hero at its center, marks the directorial and screenwriting debut of Jake Kasdan, who puts an original and outrageous new spin on the classic detective genre.