Zero Effect is a 1998 film from first time writer and director Jake Kasdan. Bill Pullman stars as brilliant but reclusive private detective Darryl Zero; a kind of modern day Sherlock Holmes who solves most cases without even leaving his high security apartment or even meeting his clients, Darryl being as inept with human interactions as he is brilliant at solving crimes. The work in the field is mostly carried out by his long-suffering assistant Steve Arlo (a brilliantly understated Ben Stiller), the Dr. Watson to Zero’s Holmes.

When wealthy businessman Gregory Stark (Ryan O’Neil) hires Zero to find his missing keys, and to find out who is blackmailing him, Zero is forced out of his comfort zone to interact with Stark and paramedic Gloria Sullivan (Kim Dickens) with whom Zero quickly becomes smitten, and who may know more than she should about Stark’s blackmailing. Zero Effect passed under the radar, pretty much unnoticed upon release, but has built up something of a cult following on DVD, and it’s easy to see why, with Kasdan’s offbeat directorial style and quirky performances (you know a film is quirky when Ben Stiller is effectively playing the straight man). Pullman in particular seems to be having a ball as Zero, from his social ineptitude to his awful song writing. David Lynch’s Lost Highway aside, this may be the only film to have fully exploited Pullman’s considerable talents. Stiller meanwhile coins the likeable-but-highly-strung everyman persona that he has made his trademark over the years.

Even Ryan O’Neal, without a decent role in the preceding decade, makes the most of what could have been a minor underwritten role as the morally dubious tycoon Stark. Kasdan, son of writer/director Lawrence, directs with comfortable assurance and the script is peppered with great comedic dialogue, and it’s no surprise that Kasdan went on to make a name for himself as a director, writer and producer with more successful mainstream comedies like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Friends With Kids and Bad Teacher, but for my money this remains his best work to date; a clever, funny and original take on an age-old set up, and a film that more than deserves revisiting.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.