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By Tom Meek | February 2, 1998

Maxwell Smart? Austin Powers? Not even close, but that’s what first time writer/director Jake Kasden — nepotunistic son of Lawrence (“Silverado” and “The Big Chill”) — appears to be aiming for with this underwhelming detective spoof. Bill Pullman plays the object of the title, a socially inept private investigator by the name of Zero, Daryl Zero. Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller) tags along as Zero’s reluctant side kick and go-between as they take on a case of a corporate tycoon (a portly Ryan O’Neal) being blackmailed over his dubious past. Kasden produces a handsome looking film, but as a writer, he can’t pull off the gags. To exacerbate Kasden’s comedic deficiencies, the nervous Stiller and lackadaisical Pullman are totally miscast — they should have swapped roles. Kim Dickens adds a spark as the possible suspect and object of Zero’s desire, but in the end, it all adds up to zilch.

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