Let me preface this review by saying that I have never seen Get Shorty in any form, edited or not, so my experiences with Be Cool are holding it up to the light as a stand alone film. Be Cool, from The Italian Job directory F. Gary Gray, is a tricky film to review in its own right. The film, hosting a cast of characters only second to Ocean’s Twelve, can be confusing at times, funny at others, and still rather boring through its runtime. Like a giant wheel, each scene could land on any one of the three, and that’s why you’ll, more than likely be disappointed in the end.

The film reintroduces us to Chili Palmer (John Travolta), the hit man turned movie producer is looking for a new business to get in to. When his friend, Tommy (James Woods), is gunned down by a toupee wearing Russian, Chili steps in to help Tommy’s wife run her record label. Fortunately for us, Tommy’s wife, Edie, is played by the beautiful Uma Thurman. Through the course of the movie we’ll meet an eclectic cast of misfits including Sin (Cedric The Entertainer), Raji (Vince Vaughn), and the scene-stealing Elliot (The Rock).

Be Cool manages to bring together the large cast in inventive ways, although the script doesn’t stretch things too far. Everyone has some part in the record business. Raji, who works for record-mogul Nick Carr (Harvey Keitel) is a white guy who talks like he’s black, although not really. Vaughn’s performance is commendable, he’s just must more likable when he plays characters more like him (see: Dodgeball and the upcoming Wedding Crashers). For the most part each character is playing someone we’ve seen before, Cedric The Entertainer is Cedric The Entertainer, Uma Thurman is Uma Thurman, etc.

The two stand out performances come from The Rock as the flamboyantly gay bodyguard Elliot and Andre Benjamin (one half of the hip-hop group Outkast) as Dabu. Both are given the majority of this limp-movie’s funny lines and/or bits, and make up for about half the ticket price. It’s just too bad the other half isn’t made up somewhere as well. The Rock succeeds in this film simply because he can play the part and has the charisma and class to not only make fun of his character, but make fun of his real-life self in the process. As the list of film’s the ex-wrestler has been in grows, it becomes more and more apparent just how well he can act, and how well liked he is in Hollywood. While it’s hard to say this about any wrestler, The Rock has made the jump to cinema successfully and is posed to take over the action-star reigns.

Yet, I digress…

While I normally hate to see singers cross over to film, as it usually brings laughable results, Andre 3000 does a decent job in the film, while I’m not going to be buying any Outkast CDs, or waiting for his first top-billed movie, the performers first film outing raises the bar a bit for anyone else looking forward to movie work.

Overall Be Cool is a film of missed opportunities. From the very beginning I had high hopes when Chili and Tommy started taking stabs at the film industry as a whole pointing out the clichés and well-known-facts, but after half of the first act had passed, we loose this funny satire to make way for the cliché. The only memorable moments are when Chili manages to stay cool through it all and pull a fast one on everyone else trying to kill him. If you didn’t know, John Travolta has still got it, and is as cool as ever, when he wants to be. One of the biggest missed opportunities is the dance scene between Thurman and Travolta in which everyone was waiting for a small recreation of the infamous dance scene from Pulp Fiction, instead of throwing the audience any morsel of homage, we get nothing. It’s not every year we get to see Uma and John paired up again and to waste this screen time was annoying.

I found it hard to enjoy parts of the film because it seemed to really drag on with very little of a coherent story to follow. While there are some very entertaining parts, many of them mentioned in this review, there just isn’t enough to bring the entire movie out of the range of mediocrity. Fans of Get Shorty many find something to like, but anyone who hasn’t seen the previous installment is better off waiting for the rental.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!