Review Date: September 24, 2001
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Writer: Scott Frank
Producers: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher
How weird is it that I didn't really appreciate this film much when it came out? I remember liking it, but nothing more than that. Probably a 7/10 or something. I saw it a year after its release and that's when the absolute FUN part of the movie hit me. Then, I saw it again on video a few years ago, and I haven't stopped watching it every year since and the absolute coolness of the movie has finally overcome me.
How many films can you name on one hand whose many scenes are memorable each on their own? Not many, I'm sure. This film has got so many cool sequences, that I can't even start going over them all here. A couple of my favorites include the one in which Travolta is "teaching" DeVito's character how to "look" like a gangster ("Look at me...") and pretty much any scene with Dennis Farina ("They say the fucking smog is the fucking reason you have such beautiful fucking sunsets"). Another classic is the one featuring Chili Palmer walking up the steps in that fancy-schmancy Hollywood restaurant with the groove just right in the background. Very cool!!
Every single actor in this film shines in their respective roles, but it's Travolta who holds this puppy together and he's as cool as ever in this flick. NO, he's not just "playing Travolta" in this movie, as he did in a few of his post-PULP parts, he's actually inhabiting Chili Palmer and you believe the guy through and through.
Other notables include Gene Hackman, hilarious as two-bit producer Harry Zimm, Rene Russo, looking awesome before her age started kicking in, DeVito, who actually plays a character outside the same dude he portrays in most movies and everyone from Harvey Keitel, in a cool cameo near the end of the flick, to Delroy Lindo ("You're gonna die, Yahoo!") and James Gandolfini.
And then there's the dialogue...some of it just poetic. You also have some violence, some suspense, romance, a kiss here, a gunshot there...what else could you ask for? All of it under the impecabble eye of director Sonnenfeld, who sure knows how to swerve that camera to accentuate the clever script.
The colors are bright, the story is a fun one (although it might be a little complex on the first watch-- the many characters might've tripped me up the first time around as well), the dialogue superb, the characters quirky and fun, and it's all about the MOVIE BUSINESS, ya'll!!
If you haven't seen this movie yet, rent it and have a blast!!
Cool trivia (see IMDb): Ernest "Chili" Palmer, a friend of Elmore Leonard's whom the character "Chili Palmer" was named after, has a small role in the movie as one of Ray Barboni's friends. Look out for him in the first scene of the movie.