Be Cool (2005)
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Review Date: March 03, 2005
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Peter Steinfeld
Producers: Danny DeVito, Stacey Sher, Michael Shamberg
Travolta as Chili Palmer
Uma Thurman as Edie
Vince Vaughn as Raji
A sequel to 1995’s GET SHORTY, this film features ex-shylock Chili Palmer in Hollywood, sick of the movie business and about to make his entry into the business of music. Along the way, Chili rubs elbows with Vanilla Ice types, gangsta rappers, hottie ingénues, Russian mobsters, gay bodyguards and Uma Thurman. He does, however, remain cool…throughout.
I’m a huge fan of GET SHORTY, so the thought of a half-assed sequel which seemed to be relying its entire friggin’ marketing campaign around the reunion of Vincent Vega and Mia Wallace from Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION (an entirely different movie with entirely different characters), scared the shit out of me. Add that to the fact that the first film was based around the movie industry—an industry which I quite enjoy myself—and featured stylish director Barry Sonnenfeld, versus the hip-hop music industry—an industry which I don’t quite enjoy myself—and director F. Gary Gray, well…let’s just say that when I sat down in my theater seat, I was ready to roll my eyes the whole way through this one. But it wasn’t so bad. In fact, I laughed here and there, Travolta looked great and his Chili Palmer character was right back where he left off in the previous flick. Many of the secondary characters were also over-the-top stereotypical enough to elicit a few chuckles and the Rock…well, the Rock goddamn stole the show here, with an amazingly comical performance as a gay, Samoan, actor-wannabe bodyguard, that only helped strengthen my belief that this man has major potential to become an all-out movie star. Wow! The scene in which he and Travolta go back and forth in his home, and the Rock breaks out into a monologue from a movie that I won’t ruin for you here, was pure hilarity. Seriously…let’s give it up for Dwayne Johnson!!

Vince Vaughn’s “white guy trying to act black” character is one that I personally have seen way too many of -- in both real life and in the movies-- but Vinnie still managed to bring some humor to the part, as did Andre 3000, in his one-dimensional doofus “gangsta” character, once more, eliciting a greater majority of the laughs, from his end of the tale. All that said, the biggest problem with this movie was that there were just too many characters (they could have cut Steven Tyler, Pastorelli, Hy, the cops, etc…), too many back-and-forths between them all, too many similarities between it and the first movie, too many waste-of-time musical numbers and ultimately, too much runtime and not enough real meat to fill it all up. Oh, and don’t get me going about the horrible inclusion of a scene in which Uma Thurman and Travolta decide to get up and dance for absolutely no reason connected to the story whatsoever, and waste both our time and patience, by doing so. In fact, the two leads’ chemistry was one of the weakest parts of the film, with Thurman, in particular, sleepwalking through her role. Compared to the heat generated between Russo and Travolta in the original, this was a particular letdown.

Granted, I still enjoyed the entire setting in L.A. and around the movie/music business, appreciated the handful of very clever lines (Tyler’s line about Thurman’s legs and Travolta’s response to the Rock’s query about when he was going to call him, were two very funny keepers), liked the cameos, especially the one by Jimmy Woods and was never really bored (save for the music scenes). But overall, the film went too long, had too many characters, wasn’t as original or stylized as the first flick, and definitely didn’t have its memorable score either. I know I seem to be comparing the two movies a little too much here (I don’t like doing that, since all films should be able to stand on their own, without having to be compared), but I guess the two movies had too many similarities to avoid. All in all, this film will likely be appreciated more by the younger audiences, the urban crowd or anyone who rents it on DVD, but it’s certainly not as bad as I had anticipated and should also be able to entertain most folks who check it out in theaters as well. Just don’t expect it to be as good as GET SHORTY and you should be okay. Oh, and if you’re a fan of the Rock…strap yourselves on for a fun time with the man…great man!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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